Sunday, Nov 17, 2019
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‘Not a matter of crisis’

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister insisted over the weekend that the situation being faced by BPL is “not a matter of crisis” even as New Providence residents suffered through another weekend of load shedding.

“They have generators out there at Clifton, if you look at them, that are older than you, some almost twice your age,” Bannister said when asked if the corporation is in a crisis.

“We’re running those generators every day. The problem is that until such time that we replace those generators we’re going to have challenges with power reliability.

“So, it’s not a matter of a crisis. It’s a matter of us coming to reality and appreciating that we have to make changes, which we are in the process of making.”

Communities on New Providence have been rocked with hours long periods of black outs as part of BPL’s load shedding exercise due to its inability to meet consumer demand.

Over the weekend, BPL conducted nearly four-hour long load shedding exercises.

Bannister said he has to endure the same conditions as every other Bahamian.

“I have the same challenge right now,” he said.

“My power is off in my house so all of us are facing those challenges. The Bahamas can never again, never again, be complacent in relation to power.”

In June, BPL brought in 25 Aggreko rental generator units to help meet the summer demand.

However, on July 23, BPL Director of Public Relations Quincy Parker noted that only 14 of the rental units were online.

It is unclear if BPL brought the remaining units online.

The minister said the power company struggles with many issues, including transmission and distribution.

“We’re also seeking to work on them…and with that also comes the complications such as having fires, such as dealing with these issues,” Bannister said.

“There are maintenance issues. There are all kinds of issues but The Bahamas has some of the most talented people working at BPL…

“We have many, many talented Bahamians working at BPL who are focused on trying to make the system better and the system is going to improve, but the system cannot improve overnight.

“It is not going to improve overnight and we all have to understand that.”

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

BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey has indicated that while the installation of rental generation will provide some relief from the outages, load shedding could be possible until the installation of that new plant is complete.

Fires

Last September, fire damaged BPL’s generators at the Clifton Pier Power Plant.

The first fire erupted on September 7 around 10:30 p.m. and caused damage to station C, which houses two of the company’s largest generators, prompting BPL to load shed throughout New Providence.

Firefighters responded to three fires at the Clifton plant, in the same areas, just days apart.

Although an investigation into the fires was completed last year, the results have not yet been released to the public.

When asked about the matter, Bannister said, “Cabinet has reviewed the report.”

However, he declined to divulge any details about the cause of the fires.

Bannister has said the government will release the results of the probe as soon as the government is able to.

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