Education officials considering contingency plans amid power “crisis”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — While acknowledging that Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) persistent load shedding exercises will negatively impact operations at schools, Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd said yesterday he is confident that the power company’s executives are working to address the energy crisis.
The minister said the ministry will consider contingencies in the event the power situation gets worse.
“If power is going out, obviously it will have a negative effect on school,” Lloyd told reporters on the sidelines of the Department of Education’s Public School Administrators Conclave at the Melia Nassau Beach resort.
“A lot of these schools like Uriah McPhee and Stephen Dillard are airconditioned facilities.
“If there is no air condition the students cannot be inside.
“We’re just going to have to manage it.
“I am satisfied that the executives at BPL have indicated to us that things are getting better every single day and we’re looking forward to the day — I believe somewhere around November [or] December — a new plant will be on stream.”
Lloyd, who said last week that schools under repairs were 75 per cent completed, advised yesterday that if the load shedding schedule remains as is — three to four-hour intervals — educators should be able to manage.
“It seems as if the practice is two to three hours loss of power on any given day,” the minister said.
“But, if its twice a day or more than that, then it’s going to be a problem.”
In the event the power outages increase, the minister added, “When we had the situation with Stephen Dillard [in 2017], we were able to use the Wesley Methodist Church school room [and] that worked out fairly well,” he said.
“Of course, you know we have the gym and some facilities at the stadium.
“So, all of those things are being contemplated, but we hope we never have to come to that.”
In a separate interview, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson noted that the excessive load shedding could negatively impact the ministry’s move to smart schools.
“BPL is not a reliable service,” she said.
“So, if we’re going to rely on technology, then what are the alternative energy producing avenues that we are going to use for our schools.”
Load Shedding exercise has been ongoing since June.
There has still been no definitive timeline on when the load shedding will end.
The power company has a 40-megawatt generation shortfall.
BPL officials have said the situation is expected to improve when the demand drops-off in fall.
A new 132-megawatt Wartsila plant is expected to be completed before the end of the year.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the power situation represents a “crisis” for Bahamians.
He said he was satisfied, however, that executives were implementing a plan to address the generation shortfall.