Still no details on BPL fires

Still no details on BPL fires
BPL CEO Whitney Heastie speaks to media at a press conference earlier this year.

BPL executive sidestep questions from the media

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Despite having completed an investigation into three fires at Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) Clifton Pier Power Station last year, fire investigators and BPL executives have yet to provide the public with details from that report.

When contacted yesterday, Fire Services Director Chief Superintendent Walter Evans deferred questions to his deputy as he was on vacation.

But his deputy was also unable to provide any substantive details on what the completed investigation uncovered.

The fires took place last September, damaging station C and impacting approximately 65-megawatts of generation, according to BPL executives.

While fire services officials have been unable to provide any substantive details on the cause of those, BPL executives sidestepped questions about those investigation during a press conference on Sunday.

Another fire took place at the Station B last Friday.

The impacted generator was back online within a matter of hours, BPL said.

The cause of that fire also remains unclear.

When questioned on the matter, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie asserted that the BPL executives had no intention on speaking to those incidents.

“We are here to talk about the current generation needs and I am not going to address the fire issue; let’s have a separate conference in relation to the fires,” Heastie said.

The CEO also asserted that impacted equipment at Station C has not contributed to load ongoing load shedding exercises across New Providence.

“It’s not as if we depended on Station C to carry us through this summer; that is not the case,” Heastie stressed.

“We relied on 140-megawatts out of Blue Hills, 35-megawatts out of Station B here at Clifton and 105-megawatts of rental generation.

“We are down to 70-megawatts at Blue Hills right now and that’s the reality that we are dealing with.

“We want to address the pending issues of generation and can deal with addressing the fires at a separate press conference.”

Heastie response received public backlash, namely on social media.

Some have even called for the resignations of the executive management team.

In a statement, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell blasted Heastie for responses which he labelled “combative, and defensive”.

“The press conference didn’t help them,” the senator noted.

“They were combative, defensive and provided no answers to the public.

“If you are going to have a press conference where you say you are going to ‘come clean’, then come clean.”

While the cause of the fires remain unknown, BPL consumers told Eyewitness News Online yesterday that they were dismayed at BPL’s lack of accountability and consistency with power generation.

One BPL customer said, “I feel like he (Heastie) was talking a lot of [nonsense] and he’s not giving us what we need to hear, and not telling us the truth. I think the CEO needs to be fired.”

The incessant load shedding which has persisted since June has been a source of frustration for residential communities.

Businesses have also bemoaned the state of power in the country, noting that it has impacted operations and revenue.

“I think that the Bahamian people deserve better because they been having this problem from, I was born,” Sam Lightbourne, a New Providence resident.

Nicholas Diah, a small business owner, added, “I have a business and we depend on electricity to keep our ice cold, which we use in our business and they are really trying to sabotage our business with these power outages. I’m not too happy about it. It’s a major problem for everybody.”

BPL executives said load shedding is expected to persist until fall when demand drops.

About Theo Sealy

Theo Sealy is an award-winning journalist who serves as senior broadcast reporter and weekend TV news anchor at Eyewitness News. He has achieved several career milestones, including his work as a field contributor with CNN, his coverage of four consecutive general elections, his production of several docuseries and his Bahamas Press Club Awards win for “Best Television News Story” in 2018.