Tuesday, Aug 21, 2018
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Summer taking toll on BPL Clifton Pier plant

Whitney Heastie.

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) CEO Whitney Heastie said yesterday that three of the five engines at the Clifton Pier Power Plant are currently offline and he does not know when they will be brought back up.

On Wednesday night, BPL had to load shed on New Providence for a little over an hour after another engine tripped and went offline, Heastie said.

He added that engineers believe that, that engine, which has since come online, may have tripped because of lack of cooling.

There were more power cuts last night.

BPL reaches its peak demand for electricity in the summer. Currently, demand sits at around 240 megawatts per day.

Clifton Pier was originally to produce 175 megawatts of power per day, Heastie said.

But officials retired a 40 megawatt per day engine, reducing Clifton’s output to 135 megawatts.

“With the three assets that we currently have down, that does put a strain on us and so we typically can produce out of Clifton Pier today about 60 megawatts until we get the rest of the assets up,” Heastie said.

Asked when he expects the engines back online, Heastie said, “There lies the issue.

“Obviously, we are waiting on experts to come in from aboard to do an analysis.”

Heastie admitted that BPL’s Blue Hill’s plant, which can produce 180 megawatts per day, and its rental generation units, 80 megawatts, are carrying the lion’s share of the load.

Asked if Bahamians can expect more load shedding, Heastie said, “As long the assets stay online, as we have them today, we should be OK.

“As I always said, we anticipate that these assets will perform, as we have worked on them but then things happen. Every time you run an engine 24/7, you do anticipate that you will have problems.

“So far, we have seen the problems come with the generation that we do have here at Clifton Pier and so we trying to make it through to really understand what we need to do to get them back.”

Fire

BPL also announced yesterday that a generator at its plant in North Andros caught fire.

It said that at 3:45 a.m. on Thursday, one of its rental generator units caught fire.

“BPL employees immediately shut down all fuel lines supplying the generator, preventing the fire from spreading beyond the unit,” BPL said in a statement.

“The fire was contained at approximately 6 a.m., however, the unit was completely destroyed.

“Although the damage caused by the fire was significant, BPL officials are thankful that there were no reported injuries to employees or to the public.

“As a result of the fire, consumers in North Andros may experience intermittent outages throughout the remainder of the day, as BPL continues its investigations and seeks to return its system to a state of normalcy.”

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said yesterday that outages from BPL are unacceptable.

He called on Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister to give a full disclosure.

“The public had earlier been assured of a sufficient supply of electricity to deal with the demands for power during the summer,” he said in a statement.

He continued, “BPL also has power generation problems in Exuma where the power failures are chronic and of long duration. It has ruined the summer for both residents and tourists alike.

“To add to this tale of woes are reports that the BPL staff are so stressed and stretched to the limit that people are being allowed to sleep on the job in order to work the overtime, which is required to keep the lights on. Fatigue ultimately causes accidents.”

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