Minnis says generation shortfall is an emergency matter
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis confirmed yesterday that government is prepared to do whatever is necessary to provide Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) with the financing it needs to immediately address the country’s current state of intermittent power supply.
“Whatever BPL needs, BPL will get because the problems we face today must and will be corrected,” said Minnis, while addressing the media.
Minnis indicated that Cabinet is prepared to redirect funding or access national emergency funding to ensure BPL is in a position to remedy what the power crisis Bahamians have been facing.
“What we are experiencing today is an emergency as far as I am concerned, and yes government has a budget, but this is an emergency and government will have to use all of its resources and talent and move monies around,” the prime minister said.
“This must be fixed and will be fixed.”
His comments to the media Monday was the first public address on the BPL generation shortfall.
In a press statement issued by the Office of the Prime Minister on Sunday, Minnis acknowledged that many families have been experiencing crisis due to the persistent and prolonged power shortages in recent months.
“Energy professionals do not feel as though we have reached an energy crisis as yet, but there is a crisis when you look at and listen to the cry and pain of the individuals who are affected — mothers who are caring for infants and have electricity off; that is stressful and is a crisis for them,” the prime minister said.
“Diabetics, who are keeping their medication in the fridge and their [power is] off for a certain amount of time; that is a crisis for them.
“Therefore, from that aspect, when you look at the human elements, yes, they are experiencing a crisis and those are situations that we must remedy as quickly as possible.”
Minnis toured BPL’s Blue Hills Power Plant and Clifton Pier Power Station on Sunday.
He said he was satisfied BPL was implementing plans to address the power situation.
“We’re looking at more than 20 years of neglect and we are now correcting those problems, and we are going to correct them once and for all,” Minnis noted.
“I’ve gotten a better appreciation of the environment, the technology and what they have to work with, and where they are taking us to. I am very happy.”
Pointing to the new engines being installed as a part of the new 132-megawatt Wartsila power plant, Minnis said the difference is “night and day”.
Frustrated BPL consumers continue to take to social media.
BPL’s Facebook page is inundated queries about the solutions to shore up power supplies.
Yesterday, Minnis indicated that BPL has been working alongside an international firm to restore several unavailable units, the result of which would see its generation shortfall corrected.
“I think in the short-term solution they have brought in teams from the U.S. and other teams who are assisting with repairing the generators; gutting some generators,” he said.
“I think that will resolve the problems in the short-term.”
Foreshadowing BPL’s long-term plans to increase power stability in New Providence, Minnis said government plans to eventually remove Family Islands off of BPL’s power grid, and have those islands rely more on renewable energy sources.
“Solar may not necessarily be as aggressive here in New Providence as you would like to see, but it’s aggressive in the Family Islands,” the prime minister said.
“Currently, we are subsidizing the Family Islands and once you can reduce that subsidy then obviously the power or cost for electricity in New Providence will decrease.”
BPL has confirmed that two downed generators at its Blue Hill power plan are responsible for the generation shortfall.
The power company said one of the two downed units will be restored by the end of this month.
The second unit is expected to be back online early in September.
Meanwhile, load shedding is expected to persist until demand drops-off in the fall.