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BPL experiences problems bringing engine online

A 20-megawatt engine at the Blue Hills Power Station that was expected to be returned online last night experienced problems when a Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) team attempted to restart it, a BPL official said last night.

BPL Director of Public Relations Quincy Parker told The Nassau Guardian yesterday, following inquiries, that a 20-megawatt GT10 machine at Blue Hills Power Station was expected to be returned to service last night.

Hours later, Parker said, “That engine that was supposed to be returned to service will not be available.

“There were problems during the attempt to restart the engine. They will be working on it tonight (last night) to try, but it is unlikely to return to service tonight.”

He added, “So to be clear, the engine that we had hoped to return to service tonight looks unlikely to come online tonight, and the other engine still requires a few days before it can come back to service.”

He was referring to engine GT7, which produces 23 megawatts. He said that engine is tentatively scheduled to return to service by the end of next week.

The news comes after BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said that BPL is experiencing a generation shortfall of 40 megawatts.

With public frustration boiling over, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said yesterday that the government feels for its citizens.

He said that BPL officials made a presentation to Cabinet on Tuesday where it was revealed that there will be a “short resolution” to the generation issues.

Asked whether he would call the issues with power supply on New Providence a crisis, Turnquest said, “I wouldn’t necessarily want to put a label on it, but we know that this is a very significant inconvenience at the least and significant event or period that has affected people’s lives, both in terms of the business and the economy, as well as personal comfort.

“So, we do as a government certainly feel for our citizens and residents and the inconveniences that they’ve had to endure during this period.

“The only thing I can say at this point is that they can be assured that we are working diligently together with BPL to try and bring resolution to this matter.”

He added, “Just yesterday we had a presentation, and we anticipate, based on the information that was given to us, that we will have a relatively short resolution to the matter barring any other significant events.

“So hopefully this saga, if we can call it that, is coming to an end, and we can be able to build upon a more sustainable power plant going forward.”

Asked if he feels confident in BPL’s solution, Turnquest said, “They’ve presented a plan to us. I’m not the engineer so I cannot say where they are technically in terms of it, but based upon my layman’s ear, I am satisfied that they are certainly addressing the issue and they have a plan to a speedy resolution.”

For nearly two months, communities on New Providence have been rocked with hours-long periods of blackouts as part of BPL’s load shedding exercise.

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

While noting that he was suffering from the recent power cuts, Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister earlier this month told The Nassau Guardian that the situation being faced by BPL is “not a matter of crisis” despite constant load shedding.

However, when reached for comment last week, the minister refused to speak and claimed that The Guardian has a political agenda.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis has faced public criticism over his silence on the BPL struggles. He has yet to comment on the ongoing issues at the power company.

Heastie said on Sunday that BPL needs 250 megawatts of generation in order to meet the summer demand on New Providence.

However, because of engine failures over the weekend, it was running on 210 megawatts, including 105 megawatts of rental generation.

“There is no guarantee; to sit here and guarantee that when those two units come back that another two won’t go down,” he cautioned.

“So, as long as we’re in this situation where we have no wiggle room, no spare capacity, we’re sitting on the edge every day. We cannot guarantee that there will not be any load shedding.”

 

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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