Former BEC chairman says replacement engines could cost $70 mil.
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — As the government commits to sparing no expense to remedy Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) woes, former Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Executive Chairman Leslie Miller said the cost involving two downed engines that have resulted in a more than 40-megawatt shortfall could be approximately $70 million.
According to Miller, who served under the former administration, the issue of persistent load shedding in New Providence in recent months is a matter of money and incompetence.
Speaking of the board he led under the Christie administration, Miller said, “We were going to purchase nine new engines, so when one big engine goes out then you have backup; that’s how you do it, but these guys are clueless.
He continued, “Those engines were ancient, but we still used them because off and on you had to use them. Then, we had to buy nine new engines. [The] reason why is because the minister said the engines you all have are so big, then if one of those engines go then a great part of New Providence will go out in power.”
Miller said the two damaged engines, which represent over 40-megawatts over generation capacity loss, were overworked.
He also suggested that officials should have limited use on the engines to preserve them and not let them run overnight as normal practice.
The former chairman said the insurance company won’t pay up.
Last week, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said a settlement with BPL’s insurance provider could take place within a month.
Miller recommended that the funds be paid using a rate reduction bond, but acknowledged that ultimately it will represent an expense for the Bahamian people.
Ultimately, he said no one should panic and rush to make hasty decisions.
“Everybody is panicking,” he said.
“I’m afraid after the minister of finance said… no money [will be] is spared, then he will borrow money — $100 million from the IDB, which is right in here in Nassau.
“That was our mandate from our leader; call the people in who built the machines. Get the guys from Europe who we always get. I don’t want to hear about nobody from the [United] States, and so we called them in and within 48-hours they were here.”
Last week, Prime minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that a six-man team from a U.S.-firm arrived in the country to assist BPL restore the downed engines.
Miller asserted that the decision was irrational.
He said the two damaged machines were European built and have only been repaired in the past by its European engineers.
He questioned the ability of the U.S. team to repair the engines.
The persistent load shedding has been vexing and contentious issue for consumers.
During the Progressive Liberal Party’s (PLP) tour of PAT’s Senior Citizens Home, Pat Moxey, its founder, said it is a daily struggle dealing with patients during outages as many of them use oxygen tanks that need electricity to operate.