Sunday, Dec 15, 2019
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Illegal dumping led to blackout

An island-wide power outage on New Providence on Tuesday was the result of someone illegally dumping debris near a critical Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) transmission pole, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister said yesterday.

“Power in New Providence is facilitated by 132,000-volt lines between the Clifton Pier and Blue Hills power stations,” Bannister said during a communication in the House of Assembly.

“These lines are located along easements that facilitate access.

“It is clear that yesterday a heavy duty vehicle, that was engaged in illegal dumping within the easement, came too close to one of the transmission poles.

“The impact caused the 132,000-volt lines to clash into each other, thereby imposing a major fault on the transmission network.

“The result was that generation at both power stations tripped offline, thereby causing a total island-wide outage.

“Initial assessments on the network, in preparation to restart the generators, very quickly identified the Clifton Pier and Blue Hills line as the circuit which initiated the outage event.”

He noted that the damaged pole and debris are located on the eastern side of Coral Harbour Road.

Bannister claimed that two hours after Tuesday’s outage, 85 percent of BPL’s customers had power restored and all customers impacted by the blackout were restored at 4:44 p.m.

However, BPL’s planned load shedding continued.

“Mr. Speaker, while we were all inconvenienced yesterday, we are thankful that power was restored as quickly as possible,” Bannister said.

“However sir, this incident could have ended very tragically for the truck driver had his vehicle impacted that pole just inches from the actual point of impact.

“And accordingly, I am obliged to warn persons not to engage in this type of illegal conduct as they could be taking their lives into their hands.”

Bannister then displayed several large posters with pictures of the pole and debris.

The photos showed what appeared to be debris from a construction site, including steel rods and concrete blocks, resting near a BPL pole.

Bannister did not say whether the driver was arrested.

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

In March, it was announced that Finnish technology group Wartsila would install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton Pier at a cost of $95 million.

“BPL is currently addressing the generation challenge by connecting seven 18.5 MW Wartsila engines to the system,” Bannister added yesterday.

“By the end of 2019, it is anticipated that these engines will provide reliable generation for the island of New Providence.”

Sloan Smith

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Sloan covers national news for The Nassau Guardian. Sloan officially joined the news team in September 2016 but interned at The Nassau Guardian while studying journalism at the University of The Bahamas.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications

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