BPL causing ‘chaos’

Super Value food stores are taking a significant hit as a result of protracted power cuts, according to its owner Rupert Roberts.

Roberts said about six Super Value locations are impacted by outages daily and the company has spent around $100,000 recently on replacing equipment damaged by the outages.

He described the outages as “a nuisance” and said they create “chaos”.

“This BEC (Bahamas Electricity Corporation) crisis is more than a crisis, it’s chaos,” Roberts said at the Nassau Street store.

 “It’s costing us $250,000 a year from burning up our equipment.”

He said, “I suppose our biggest concern is burning up equipment.

“…[We] burn up a $10,000 or $20,000 air conditioning [unit and] we’re always burning up compressors. We’re using up spares so fast and we’re doing emergency imports.

“Fortunately, we’re able to get them in within three or four days without flying them in. But I noticed on Saturday we had a diary case down because we’re waiting on the compressor that burned out. That’s the biggest problem.”

Roberts said it will cost about $10,000 to replace a compressor in the dairy case at the Nassau Street location. He said it is unlikely that case will be operational before Saturday.

Roberts said dairy sales were up 14 percent before the case was damaged.

 Since it was damaged, sales have gone down 17 percent, he said.

Roberts said the company has twice the amount of equipment needed “because of the serious problem” of the outages.

Although the food store chain is facing challenges with the outages, Roberts said the company is “managing quite well”.

“We’ve been in this business over 50 years and we’ve had power problems for the last 50 years,” he said.

“So, we learned how to cope. We don’t run out of fuel. Years ago, when I first started in the industry, we had generators because of hurricanes but for the past 25 years we’ve had to have generators because of power outages.”

 For nearly two months, communities on New Providence have experienced hours-long blackouts as part of Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) load shedding exercise.

Over the last few weeks, BPL has conducted nearly four-hour-long load shedding.

On Sunday, BPL Chief Executive Officer Whitney Heastie said he could not guarantee an end to load shedding exercises in the immediate future, describing BPL as being “on a cliff”.

Heastie said BPL needs 250 megawatts of generation in order to meet the summer demand.

However, it is currently running on 210 megawatts, including 105 megawatts of rental generation.

Heastie said the 40-megawatt shortfall has led to load shedding across New Providence.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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