No merit to BPL’s ‘end of load shedding’, says union

No merit to BPL’s ‘end of load shedding’, says union
Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard

NASSAU BAHAMAS – Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard said Bahamas Power and Light’s declaration of no more load shedding next summer has no merit.

Last week, BPL Chairman Dr Donovan Moxey declared there “will be an end to load shedding” as the company celebrated the launch of its new station at the Clifton Pier Power Plant.

The power company announced earlier this month that Station A at the Clifton Pier Power Station was online and providing power to the grid.

“He might have had some merit to it if he had said we are going to try and minimize the effects of load shedding next summer,” Maynard said, while appearing as a guest on Beyond the Headlines with Clint Watson.

“The problem is, you have 130 megawatts and then you have everything else unreliable.

“A lot of if factors have to happen in order for you not to load shed.

“…When they have the further 90 megawatts, then he can make that statement.”

In March, the government announced that it had signed a $95 million contract with Wärtsilä to install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at the Clifton Pier Power Station.

Last month, the government passed the Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill (ERRB), 2019, which will allow BPL to restructure more than $320 million in inherited debt, and secure more than $350 million in new funding to address longstanding issues.

Public Works Minister Desmond Bannister has announced that $70 million of the proceeds from the bond will fund the expansion of the Wärtsilä plant.

Bannister said the second phase of the plant, which will bring an additional 90 megawatts of capacity online for a total of 222 megawatts, is expected to be on stream by 2021.

Maynard noted on Monday that because of the ancient engines that remain at the plant until the government brings on stream its additional 90 megawatts, the power supply remains unreliable and unpredictable.

“A proper statement would be that BPL would do its best to hold its load shedding to an absolute and total minimum,” he continued.

“And then you have to look also at the transmission and distribution factor in it.

“The protection system is not looked at yet and the upgrade of a T and D system is not looked at, and so that has to happen as well.

“The money that they are getting with the rate reduction bond, some of that money is going to fix that. And so once all that is fixed, and they got the other 90 megawatts in place, now you have a very reliable system.”

Maynard said approximately $80 million to $100 million has been earmarked from the bond to address the transmission and distribution system.

“As a matter of fact, I think $120 million is need, but $80 million to $100 million will suffice for now,” he added.

“We have a lot of substations that need to be changed. We have substations on our system that is just away from someone going in to close the switch and blowing up. It’s ancient.”