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Meltdown

A terminally ill woman yesterday lay in her bed crying out in pain while her sister, Yvonne Rolle, fed her ice cubes in an attempt to provide some comfort in the extreme heat as power outages continued across New Providence.

Over the past five days, many Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) consumers on the island have experienced repeated power outages, some lasting hours.

Many residents expressed outrage over what they viewed as a lack of communication and planning by the power company.

Rolle’s sister has stage four cancer that has spread to multiple organs. The constant severe pain has rendered her bedridden, unable to move.

“As the electricity went off, all she could do was call on the name of Jesus,” Rolle said.

“[She said,] ‘It’s so hot. It’s so hot.’

“So you can imagine how that makes me feel. She was eating ice to cool off.

“The electricity came back on. We tried to close the window, but by the time the room got just slightly cool and we had closed the windows, the electricity went back off and all she could say was, ‘Oh my lord.’

“You know, when you are in agonizing pain and the medication is not working to ease the pain, and then with the heat, it was just too much.

“It was very sad. It would bring tears to your eyes. That’s all I could say.”

She continued, “Can you imagine the heat that she was going through as she is in pain and crying out the same time that it’s so hot, it’s so hot, and you’re trying to find a piece of book to fan?

“And the book is only fanning hot air, because the room has gotten hot, so there is no happy medium.

“The only thing you could try to do is go and buy ice and put ice in the water and just keep up with trying to apply the coolness to her body.

“It’s terrible.”

Over the past several days, the island has been experiencing high temperatures, high humidity and little to no wind. The temperature yesterday peaked at 88 degrees Fahrenheit, but according to AccuWeather, the “real feel” was 101 degrees Fahrenheit.

BPL said yesterday evening that the temporary failure of two of its generating assets over the weekend exacerbated the load-shedding underway on New Providence, extending the times and multiplying the number of outages experienced across the island.

Noting that in Yellow Elder, where her sister lives, the electricity went off several times within a one hour period, Rolle said BPL has not been adequately informing the public.

“I don’t know if they really are doing that,” she said.

“One of the things that really should happen is they should have a schedule when people know, and they shouldn’t just broadcast it once, because if you broadcast it once, a lot of people won’t hear it. It should be broadcast constantly throughout the day so that people know and are able to plan ahead.”

She added, “It’s absolutely ridiculous, and it doesn’t look like there is any relief in sight, because it seems like it goes off every 15 or 20 minutes. That doesn’t make sense.”

BPL has said that it does not release schedules due to concerns that criminals could use them to target areas without electricity.

Denise Rolle, a Stapledon Gardens resident whose only comfort at home has been stripping down to her underwear, yesterday expressed frustration over the situation.

“It is just too much, and it seems as if nobody is listening,” she told The Guardian.

She said while a schedule could be helpful, she is unsure whether the impact would be significant given the frequent outages her area has experienced over the past few days.

“I feel that the power outages are just too frequent. For the day we have had at least about eight or 10 outages,” she said.

She added, “I think a schedule is in good order.

“…But again, if you were to bring out a schedule, suppose the schedule informs us that we are going to be disconnected 10 times on a Sunday? What good is a schedule at that point?”

Her husband, Philip Rolle, raised concern over potential damage to his appliances, as he said they experience surges when the electricity comes back on.

“I’m afraid that all my appliances are going to go bad, because we had on the central air conditioning and the [power] went off, and when it came back on, all the air conditioning went out,” he said.

“It just stopped. So I’m afraid that all of the appliances are going to stop, because when the [power] comes back on, it sends a serious surge, and all of the appliances go bad, and that’s what’s happening right now.”

He said the problem of insufficient generation has gone on too long.

“I don’t know if it’s too much consumption of electricity, but this is 2019,” he said.

“We should have already gotten over that, whether the population increased or the houses increased or the electricity increased with appliances and all that, this is 2019. We should be past that.”

BPL 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.

This came after the company had to conduct a number of load shedding exercises last year after several fires caused significant damage at the Clifton Pier plant.

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

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

BPL said that an additional 25 megawatts of rental generation for the Blue Hills Power Station will become available by June 30.

 “This additional rental will bolster BPL’s available generation and put us in a better position to meet the increasing customer demand during this summer period,” it said.

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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