BPL did not grow to meet increasing demand

As consumer demand for electricity on New Providence grew over the years, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) never invested in increasing its generation capacity, BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey recently said.

“We have been disadvantaged by decades of nonalignment of strategic vision for the company and the needs of our growing customer base,” Moxey said during a press conference on Sunday.

“As more housing developments were being constructed, more resorts and other foreign direct investments were courted and constructed, as the economy and the population has continued to grow, there should have been concurrent investments in increasing generation capacity to sufficient levels that would ensure the company’s ability to meet growing demand and sufficient headroom to allow for redundancy.

“That nonalignment is equally at play in our challenges and perhaps more significant than the current shortfall in generation, in our view.

“The facts are plain: decisions that would have obviated the problems we face today were not made, and so we are here, challenged to fix these problems once and for all.

“But as a board, we are committed to doing exactly that, and not making excuses or placing blame.”

In recent years New Providence has seen major developments such as Baha Mar, The Pointe, GoldWynn and more.

The power company 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.

The 40-megawatt shortfall has led to consistent load shedding across New Providence for several months.

BPL Chief Executive Officer Whitney Heastie said there is no timeline for the end of load shedding, noting that the power company is “sitting on the edge every day”.

The company signed an MOU with Shell Gas and Power Development B.V. for a gas-to-power project on November 2.

The MOU establishes Shell as the project developer for the power project, which will include the development of marine infrastructure to receive liquefied natural gas; a gas pipeline to bring gas to shore; an onshore LNG regasification terminal; and a new gas-fired 220-plus megawatt power plant.

Shell, which would become an independent power producer (IPP), was expected to cover the cost of constructing the plant.

BPL would have to, in turn, pay Shell to supply electricity.

On March 5, BPL announced that it signed a contract with Wartsila to install a new 132-megawatt engine power plant at the Clifton Pier site that will cost approximately $95 million.

When asked how the company planned to pay for the project, Heastie said the money would come from capital works that were deferred in favor of this new generation.

He said at the time that the Wartsila project will not conflict with the Shell MOU.

On Sunday, Moxey noted that the PPA with Shell is still being negotiated and it remains unclear when the company will take control of power generation for New Providence.

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Sloan Smith

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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