Monday, Nov 18, 2019
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Blackouts leave businesses reeling

After days of repeated and unexpected power outages across New Providence, many businesses are suffering and their owners are disappointed.

Over the past week, many Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) customers on the island experienced frequent power outages, some lasting hours at a time.

Fusion Superplex CEO Carlos Foulkes said yesterday that the company lost $32,000 due to generation issues on Monday. The company announced on Facebook that it would be unable to screen movies scheduled for Monday evening due to power issues.

“We had to refund all of the tickets to the guests that had purchased tickets in advance and online,” Foulkes said.

“In addition to that, persons had come to the facility last night hoping to watch a movie and we had to turn them away.”

Foulkes said that Fusion experienced issues on Monday when its generator failed after repeated outages.

Asked how the experience has impacted future plans for the business, he said that the company is now looking to obtain additional backup power, a purchase that would be a significant and unplanned cost.

“What we’re doing now is … speaking with our engineers and our energy consultants to see what measures we [can] put in place to mitigate this type of issue in the future,” he said.

“We thought that the current generator that we had installed initially would be sufficient, but the demand on it was greater than we anticipated so we are looking now to increase the energy backup capacity, which is an unplanned cost.

“[The] initial generator cost us well in excess of $300,000. Now we are looking to see what we must do in the event that [generator] fails. Is that going to be a secondary generator of equal value? Or do we use some type of solar technology to alleviate the burden on the system?”

Many customers have raised concerns over BPL’s lack of communication during what the company initially said was a planned load-shedding exercise. Bahamians have also expressed frustration over damaged appliances and difficulty obtaining compensation from BPL.

As she sat in front of a fan in the kitchen of Rosalee’s Take Away, owner of the popular food spot Floricka Davis said she has lost both equipment and money as a result of the unpredictable blackouts.

“Month before last when they were load-shedding, [the refrigerator] just conked right out, so I got somebody to fix it,” she said.

“He came in and charged me must be $370 for the engine. All together he charged me $500.”

She added, “Now when I came to work, all last week it was [working]. Now when I came to work yesterday, Monday, nothing working. Nothing working.

“We had to jam everything inside that freezer over there. And [BPL] don’t give you nothing back.

“Even the TV out. My TV home is the same thing. Everything just gone bad.”

“My customers would wait, but it’s just hard for us to be productive because it’s so hot. We try to open the door, but you can’t take any chances.”

“Any time they have a problem, we have two little lights in here and candles in the drawers, so we try, but last night it was bad. I think it came back on about 10 o’clock last night, so we didn’t make anything because you can’t really see with those candles and you have to know what you’re doing with people’s food.

“It’s a problem. It’s a big problem. And it just keeps cutting off and cutting off and cutting off.”

Bernard Miller of Miller’s Welding on Ferguson Street said he believes small businesses have to take a stand. He said that he is budgeting money for the purchase of a generator due to the frequency of power interruptions, as he cannot operate his business otherwise.

“All the small businesses got to gather together and we got to do something with this government,” he said.

“Because, government after government we had the same thing, but this here is showing the people, ‘[It’s] all of y’all.’”

Miller added, “Automatically it’s affecting us because if someone comes here for me to do work, I can’t work. I can’t work. Now I need to invest in a generator.”

“That’s thousands of dollars we have to get together to get the generator to run this type of business because we have big machines here.”

BPL has historically struggled to meet the increased demand for electricity on New Providence during the summer months.

While BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey on Monday said that some relief is expected by the end of this week with the installation of rental generation units, he noted that load-shedding is possible until much later this year when the installation of a new power plant at Clifton Pier will be complete.

The company 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 October, according to officials.

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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