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BPL: Loss of generators worsened load shedding

Severe power outages across New Providence over the past few days were due to the temporary loss of two generators, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) said yesterday.

The power company said the loss of the assets “exacerbated” the load shedding that was already underway, “extending the times and multiplying the number of outages experienced across the island”.

BPL said that while one generator was returned to service yesterday afternoon and work is continuing on the other, load shedding can be expected to continue until rental generation units are installed at the end of this week.

“…The addition of these rental units will alleviate the demand challenges BPL is facing,” BPL said in a statement.

The statement added, “The generation shortfall plus the spike in demand mean that BPL expects to be load shedding almost daily, in two hour rotations, until the rental generators are installed and the [generation] sets that are out of commission for repair or maintenance are brought back into service.”

BPL yesterday said on its Facebook page that load shedding would take place in three-hour intervals.

In its statement, BPL said while it is mandated to ensure that there is always sufficient supply to meet demand, the electricity demand is not consistent because of peak periods and continuous growth in the number of customers.

“In addition to higher than normal peak demand, power system stress can be induced by old, nearly obsolete transmission and distribution (T&D) equipment, insufficient generation capacity and the inability of our power system to respond adequately to external shocks,” the statement read.

“Load shedding is done as a controlled option to respond to unplanned events to protect the electricity power system from a total blackout.”

BPL also said that it has launched a campaign to encourage consumers to practice conservation and energy efficiency so that the overall demand for electricity is decreased.

“There are dozens of steps consumers can take to reduce the amount of electricity they use, many being specific to their properties and their unique circumstances,” it said.

“BPL asserts that it can help consumers find and exploit those opportunities.”

The power company has historically struggled to keep up with an increased demand for electricity on New Providence during summer months.

BPL conducted a number of load shedding exercises last year after several fires caused significant damage at the company’s Clifton Pier plant.

Following that crisis, it was announced in March that Finnish technology group Wartsila will install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at a cost of $95 million to increase the generation capacity on New Providence.

The engines arrived last month, but the plant will not be in use until the end of summer.

BPL said yesterday that six of the seven engines have already been moved to the Clifton Pier site. The last is scheduled to be moved on Wednesday.

“This means the process of installing the new, permanent generation assets at Clifton Pier remains on schedule,” it said.

It added, “This new permanent generation will be the foundation of a new 132-megawatt power station housed at Station A, and will do much to improve generation availability and reliability on New Providence.

“These units will also be more cost effective to run, operate and maintain. It is expected that these units will be online in the fall.”

Rachel Knowles

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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