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Businesses feeling the brunt of load shedding

As Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) continues to load shed amid generation issues, businesses throughout New Providence are seeing additional costs and loss of profits due to the inability to service their customers.

BPL continued its three-hour interval load shedding yesterday.

Herve Swaby, manager of Juicin’ For Life, Saunders Beach, told The Nassau Guardian that over the past few weeks, the company, which has a second location in Palmdale and no generator at either, has had to continuously deal with power outages.

“Because we don’t have a generator, even if we were to purchase a smaller one on the island, it wouldn’t be enough to power one of our blenders because our blenders pull plenty power,” Swaby said.

“And then, not only do we have the blenders, we also have the juicers. We also have our deli which needs to stay cool and we have refrigerators to keep our produce cold also.

“So, without that, we basically need to close shop.

“We can’t even open the door to tell customers we can’t prepare their drinks because the door is also electric.”

Swaby said as a result of this, a significant amount of revenue has been lost.

He said while they can still sell items from the deli, their main product is healthy drinks and “you can’t juice without power”.

“The Palmdale store is the same thing,” he continued.

“So, that’s two stores we’re losing three hours of business and that does affect our pockets because not only do we lose profit but our expenses stay the same, because we still have to pay our employees for the hours that they’re here.”

He said his biggest fear is that the appliances will be impacted during the next power surge.

On the eastern side of the island, Julie-Andree Knowles, the owner of Le Petit Gourmet, expressed a similar concern for the appliances and business at her highly-rated restaurant.

The company has been on Shirley Street for 11 years.

Knowles said while she is blessed to have a generator for her business, the main issue is that once power cuts off and on, she does not get enough supply to her business to run the appliances needed.

“The power goes slowly down to us and damages our compressors, which are the most expensive parts of our equipment,” she explained.

“So, every time the power gets cut, we’re always scared that something will give – fridge, freezer – and that includes not just the freezer and the compressor, but the contents of it.

“And after that when the air condition doesn’t work, guess what, when it’s 90 degrees people don’t want to sit inside your restaurant to have lunch.

“…[My customers] say, ‘We love you but we can’t come.’ There’s more take-out than sit down. It’s sad because people don’t get to enjoy the property as they should.”

Knowles said she understands that power has to be rationed because of the demand, but it has to be done in a way that doesn’t put businesses at risk.

She added that while she hasn’t had any major losses over these past few weeks, last year she had to invest $6,000 out of pocket for the damage received during outages.

She hopes to avoid these problems in the future.

“Once my compressors are gone, there’s nothing I can do and I don’t have time to wait to try to claim money and all of this. I don’t have it,” she said.

“So, between that and the taxes and all of this, it becomes a lot of pressure, because I’m a small business. We have 10-12 employees. It’s working well. We have a good customer bank, but I’m small. I’m not a big corporation that can easily hop on a plane and go get a new compressor.”

The Bahamas Humane Society has also had trouble managing the recent power outages.

The 24-hour animal shelter has a generator installed but it has to be manually switched on whenever the power goes out.

“It has been rough. We’ve had to top up on diesel,” said Chief Inspector and Shelter Manager Percy Grant.

“As you know, we have a lot of animals housed and it’s a situation because we don’t have an automatic transfer switch. So, we have to always be on board to cut on the generator. So that’s another traumatic thing for us.

“Last week was really, really bad. We didn’t have as many outages this week, so that was good.

“…We don’t know when it will end. We are hoping that this summer doesn’t get worse.

“We know because of the hurricane season now we have to make sure and call in our technicians and service the generators and probably top up again, because it is hurricane season, so we always have to be ready in the event of a disaster.”

Grant said it can be very costly to service the generator and top it off with diesel.

“I hope it quickly gets resolved, so that we can be able to run properly and not have issues and interruptions and we are just hoping that BPL gets whatever done,” he added.

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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