PM: This is a power crisis

PM: This is a power crisis

BPL expects to restore 43-megawatts of power by September 6

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday admitted that the situation being faced by Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) — persistent load shedding in three to four-hour intervals in New Providence since June — is a crisis.

In a statement from the Office of the Prime Minister, Minnis said while the energy community may not accept the term, when the public is prevented from accessing basic, essential needs such as cooking due to extensive power outages, “this is a crisis”

This is the first time a public official has recognized the energy challenges plaguing BPL as a crisis.

“To the energy community, this may not fit the definition of crisis, but for Bahamian families that can’t cook breakfast, fill their gas tanks, buy groceries or even charge a cell phone, this is a crisis,” Minnis said in a statement.

“I understand the pain. I understand your anger and I understand the deep frustration of Bahamians throughout New Providence.”

Despite weeks of persistent load shedding, Minister of Works Desmond Bannister told The Nassau Guardian earlier this month that the situation faced by BPL was “not a matter of crisis”.

BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey also rejected the assessment of BPL as in “crisis mode”, which was first made by Bahamas Electrical Workers Union Paul Maynard weeks ago.

Maynard has since said BPL is facing a catastrophe.

Several communities have reported being cut off from the grid as much as twice per day.

Yesterday, the prime minister assured that the power company is doing all that it can to implement long-term fixes to the challenges BPL has been faced with for decades.

He said BPL is aggressively executing its plan to mitigate the shortfall in generation to ensure relief is provided to residents as soon as possible.

Minnis toured BPL’s Clifton Pier Power Station and its Blue Hills Power Station yesterday.

BPL CEO Whitney Heastie briefed the prime minister and Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, who also toured both facilities yesterday, on the work being carried out to “return consistent power to the residents of New Providence”.

Minnis reiterated that the government is committed to doing whatever is necessary to alleviate the problem.

The Office of the Prime Minister also noted that BPL continues to work hard to address the “serious load shedding issues”. He pointed out that the power company has begun releasing daily fact sheets as part of an effort to better communicate with the public, the extent of the problems and the work being carried out to resolve them.

The fact sheet outlines BPL’s demand and generation and its expected shortfall, as well as any challenges in generation or otherwise foreseen for the following day.

The OPM said BPL will continue to notify the public as additional generation is brought online.

In the Sunday fact sheet, the power company announced that due to a generation shortfall of 32 megawatts yesterday, BPL had to load shed in 2 hours, 47 minutes, intervals.

It said it estimated a 30-megawatt shortfall for Monday and said three-hour load shedding rotations were foreshadowed.

As it relates to repairs on the units at Blue Hills with the American team, BPL said it was completing the final phase of alignment with a 23-megawatt unit, which could take another seven to 10 days.

Meanwhile, the 21-megawatt unit was expected to be repaired by September 6.

Last Wednesday, Minnis said the government was “deeply unhappy” with the “unacceptable” power supply challenges gripping BPL, and advised that a six-man team of specialists from Pennsylvania-based Philadelphia Gear arrived in New Providence to help return an additional 20-megawatts of power to service at the Blue Hills Power Plant.

He acknowledged that over the last several months, BPL has engaged in prolonged periods of load shedding, due to a decaying generation fleet that has challenged the power company’s ability to generate power in New Providence for decades.

BPL announced in March that Finnish technology group Wartsila will install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.

New Providence was expected to receive 25 megawatts of rental generation in June from Aggreko to shore up generation capacity.

Five megawatts was sent to Bimini.

Fourteen megawatts on rental units were installed in New Providence in July.

As of late July, the remaining six megawatts of units has not been installed with no completion timeline.

Moxey has indicated, however, that while the installation of rental generation will provide some relief from the outages, load shedding could be possible until the installation of that new plant is complete.