An island-wide power outage plunged thousands of residents on New Providence into darkness yesterday.
Many residents in western New Providence were still in darkness up to 9 p.m. last night.
As temperatures soared to the mid 80s and Bahamians remained indoors due to a 24-hour curfew, tempers flared.
Around 1 p.m., Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) said officials were investigating the cause of the outage.
“We anticipate two hours’ restoration time from the onset of restoration efforts,” BPL said.
By 3:30 p.m., BPL reported that numerous areas on New Providence had power restored.
But many remained without power and without the option to leave their hot residences due to a 24-hour curfew in place intended to stem the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement around 6 p.m., BPL said Skyline Drive, Cable Beach, Baha Mar and the Melia Nassau Beach area remained off due to damaged equipment.
“Also, a separate team is at work repairing equipment damage affecting the Cable Bahamas area, Ethyl Street and Montell Heights,” the company said.
“We expect extended outages for 1.5 hours to three hours with restoration at or before 7 p.m. tonight for this repair.”
At 9 p.m. last night, BPL said the outage was caused by a “short in the system”.
“The team was making preparations to tie in a new substation on Gladstone Road and Firetrail Road,” BPL said.
“In order to complete the works, the team had to isolate the circuit at the Skyline substation that feeds the old Gladstone Road substation before tying in the new substation. While attempting to complete this activity, a short in the system at the Skyline substation initiated an island-wide blackout.”
Under the 24-hour curfew, residents are not permitted to leave their homes except for “essential travel”, such as to grocery stores or pharmacies.
While rolling power outages and load shedding have been common on New Providence, especially during the summer months due to “peak demand”, BPL recently added 34 megawatts of new energy to the island’s grid.
Furious customers flocked to BPL’s social media page in the immediate aftermath of the outage.
Carmen Miller wrote, “My daughter was taking her AP calculus examination. Also, we logged on using my data. All was well but as soon as electricity was restored the phone automatically switched to WIFI, which broke the link to the exam. Hundreds of hours wasted preparing for this exam along with the financial cost of paying for the exam. This country is so backwards.
“I am so angry right now.
“How is my child going to collect herself to sit her next exam at 4 p.m.?”
Miller wasn’t the only one to complain about the outage affecting the AP exam.
Adrian McPhee, father of Kiki McPhee, also chimed in.
“Great timing,” Adrian McPhee wrote.
“My son has an AP exam that started at 1:30 p.m.”
Around 8 p.m., Patton Adderley wrote, “What is going on? Cable Beach [has been] off for seven hours now and still no explanation and no update. How is this acceptable? The bill for May is already out and it’s high. This is ridiculous. BPL is the biggest disappointment in this country.”
The Nassau Guardian also spoke to residents who retreated outside their homes shortly after the outage.
Henry Rolle said he was worried that all the food in his fridge would spoil.
“Money is scarce because [businesses] are closing down and opening at a certain time,” he said.
“They (BPL) have to get their act together.”
Winston Hanna said, “I have an electric stove and that means I can’t cook on time.
“I have an electric pump so that means I can’t get no water and I can’t cook.”
Last summer, New Providence was rocked with daily load shedding.
In December, following the installation of seven new Wartsila engines, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said there would be no more load shedding.
“So, come this summer, when peak demand is at 260 megawatts, we will have over 300 megawatts of available power,” he claimed.
“There will be an end to load shedding.
“This facility, along with other facets of our turnaround strategy, will help make load shedding a thing of the past for New Providence and that is something that we can all celebrate.”