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BPL: No additional load shedding as demand decreases

Whitney Heastie. FILE

While Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) officials have not yet had a chance to assess the damage three recent fires wreaked on its Clifton Pier power station, CEO Whitney Heastie said yesterday that the company does not anticipate any additional load shedding after today.

“We are anticipating all of our assets that were in service to be back and so we feel fairly confident that once we get those back between tonight and tomorrow we’re good,” Heastie told The Nassau Guardian.

“At this time of the year, we are fairly confident that we’ve got sufficient generation to meet the load demands, because we are coming down off the peak, we’re coming into the fall season where folks don’t burn as much AC as they typically would do during the summer time, so the load demand is not there, so we are fine.”

The first fire at the Clifton plant occurred last week Friday night, the second on Sunday night and a third on Monday morning.

BPL said in a statement that fires on Sunday and Monday were minor and caused no additional damage to the station.

A fire at one of the power plant’s major diesel engine decks reportedly began on Friday night when a technician was attempting to make an adjustment while bringing a generator that had been out of service back online.

The fire spread from the engine deck down to a basement and throughout the station.

That generator was reportedly destroyed.

Throughout the week, the company conducted a load shedding exercise throughout New Providence.

Heastie said yesterday that officials have still not assessed the damage from the fires.

“Every day we’ve been trying to get a status update once we got the facility safe enough for people to enter into the facility,” Heastie told The Guardian.

“Obviously we are still waiting to make it safe, so all we can do is stand on the outside and pretty much look on the inside, pretty much because there is no lighting in there due to damage in there.

“We just don’t want anybody to go in there because there has been some materials…that’s been somewhat compromised. So because of that it would not be safe to go in there to really do an evaluation.”

Heastie said based on what he can see from the outside, one of the engines seems to “look promising”.

He said, however, “until you get in there and start to test wires and circuits and find out exactly what it is you have that’s been exposed to heat you really won’t know”.

He added, “We’re looking to hopefully get that done over the next couple of days where we can actually get some lighting and then people can start going in there and looking around and seeing what the true extent of the damage is.”

Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said on Wednesday that Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) needs a “come to Jesus” moment after facing critical challenges at the Clifton Pier Power Station.

Maynard said the recent voluntary separation packages offered by BPL have handicapped the company and argued that between 50 and 100 former employees should be re-engaged.

However, Heastie insisted yesterday that none of the division managers at the company has lodged that complaint to him.

Heastie noted that of the 314 people who accepted the packages, approximately 100 of them were retained contractually.

“The individual divisions inside BPL would have looked at their needs through the summer and beyond, getting those remaining employees acclimated to the roles that they were going to be taking on, and individually, each division manager would have looked at and determined who they needed to retain and that’s what was retained,” Heastie explained.

“Above and beyond that if he’s making reference…above and beyond that 100 that was retained, I’d need to understand specifically what he’s making reference to and why does he think we need to [re-engage] those people.

“None of the division managers would have come to me and said we need to add additional staff outside of the original [100] that was retained. And, so, I’ll be surprised, if someone had said something and it didn’t get to me because obviously we meet fairly regularly at the executive level to find out exactly how things are going and so I’ll be surprised that there are additional people that are needed and that had not been allotted.”

BPL will pay out $70 million to 314 employees who accepted the VSEP offers.

It paid out $56 million to 219 employees as of June 30. Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said the separation dates were staggered to ensure that the company’s “efficiency is not negatively impacted”.

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