Powerless: Residents demand relief as island-wide blackout hits NP

Powerless: Residents demand relief as island-wide blackout hits NP

Full complement of rental generation still not installed

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Patrice Gertilus, a mother of two and grandmother returned home after a nine-hour shift yesterday to a hot home — unable to take a bath or prepare food due to a lack of electricity for over five hours — a situation she described as “unbearable” and “unacceptable”

“It’s absolutely disgraceful,” Gertilus told Eyewitness News Online, lamenting the island-wide outage that affected thousands of customers and businesses across New Providence.

“We are not begging for power; we are paying for it,”

“But now, it’s going on five hours.

“…They have to do better. I had to work today, and this is bad.

“We could sort of deal with it when it was two hours last week, and even when they went to three because after three hours the light will come on, but five hours.

“We are paying for this electricity.

“If you don’t pay your bill, BPL will put a lock on your meter box.”

The power company reported that the island-wide black out began at 11:45 a.m.

It said the cause was being investigated.

BPL noted that the first engine was brought back online after noon and as of 2 p.m., 85 percent of customers’ power was restored.

At the time, the power company noted that all but one of the generators servicing the system had been restored and teams were working to get the final unit online. It said until that unit was restored load shedding would be necessary in two and a half hour intervals.

“We regret the need for load shedding and will advise once the final unit is restored and all customers are back online,” BPL said.

BPL said the final engine was restored around 4 p.m.

However, in a later notice to the public around 8 p.m., the electricity provider advised customers that it had reinitiated load shedding across New Providence, beginning with Bamboo Boulevard, East Street North and surrounding areas.

Parts of Fire Trail Road, Carmichael Road, and John F. Kennedy Drive were next to be impacted.

Gertilus, a 30-year veteran hotelier, who spoke to Eyewitness News Online around 6 p.m., said it is unfair to consistently pay a full electricity bill when service is interrupted nearly every other day for several hours at a time.

She said the power company must compensate customers and urged the public to demand it.

“We don’t have to sympathize with them because there is nothing for free,” she said.

“If it was free, I could sympathize and let it stay off for a couple of hours.

“It is not free. It is a high, high electricity bill and the service is horrible.”

According to Gertilus, her bill ranges well over $300 each month.

She said she was fortunate that the electricity was on as she got prepared for her 7 a.m. shift.

Her son and grandson — both of whom she described as “grown”— were forced to endure hours without electricity or water, however.

The water supply to her home is supplied by an electric pump that pumps water from a well, which is dependent on electricity.

Gertilus added that her daughter, Tasae Lightbourne, who lives in another unit to the rear of the home, has a home hair salon business, but she was unable to take on clients and had to cancel several appointments due to the blackout yesterday.

BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey announced last week that rental units intended to supplement the increase demand on the grid and provide relief would be installed by the end of last week.

He said notwithstanding the rental generation, load shedding may still be possible until October, when the $95 million, 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton is in use.

Finnish technology group Wartsila will install the engines, which arrived in New Providence last month.

According to BPL Director of Communications Quincy Parker 14 megawatts of additional rental generation was installed last Thursday.

The remaining new rental generations, expected to supplement another 10 megawatts of power, have not been added to the grid and were in the process of being commissioned.

“They will be up and running soon, but I cannot give you a specific timeframe yet for that,” Parker said.

“As soon as I can, I will.”

Outrage

The power company’s social media pages, namely Facebook, was flooded with hundreds of messages from customers, the majority of whom expressed frustration, the challenges associated with the power outages, and the overall disappointed with BPL’s failure to keep the power on despite repeated promises in the months ahead of summer.

Others expressed grave concern about increases in fuel surcharge on their bills.

“I swear we live in a war torn country with constant conflict,” a Facebook user named Nika Cox said. “I don’t want to see [any] increase in my fuel surcharge; not one red penny. I’m not paying for y’all mismanagement.”

Monique Knowles suggested that BPL customers stage a sit down at BPL’s headquarters on Baillou Hill Road and demand credits be applied to their accounts for the spate of outages in recent weeks.

Deneisha Balboni, another Facebook user, added, “Of course it will be necessary to load shed. You’ve been load shedding non-stop for a week. Downed poles; traffic accidents; blown engines; thunderstorms; unusually hot weather; generation failure; lightning strike; wet water: different excuse, same outcome. We are not surprised anymore. We have evolved to a higher state of being. We’re boycotting you.”