BPL planning underground network for Abaco

Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister yesterday announced that Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) plans to create an underground electrical network on Abaco, while creating a number of substations to provide power to different areas of the island and its neighboring cays.

“They are putting their employees, a number of employees, [on the ground] in Abaco. They have assistance with other countries that are providing linesmen and other workers to come in and help,” Bannister said at a press conference at the Ministry of Education.

“So, they are very optimistic that they are going to be able to generate power in North Abaco.”

He also noted that there is a plan in place to create micro grids in cooperation with a number of private sector entities.

He said: “They are looking to do some of the infrastructure in the Marsh Harbour area underground, and when you get into that underground work – and a number of the cays are demanding underground infrastructure – you can anticipate that the cost is multiplied by two to three times what it would normally cost for the overhead wires, but the plan for the Marsh Harbour area is to create an underground network in relation to a number of substations and provide power through different areas of Abaco and the cays through that network.”

Last month, Bannister indicated that it could cost the government anywhere from $80 million to $90 million to restore power on Abaco.

Bannister also said there are a number of entities that want to generate power and to generate renewable energy in a number of the cays.

He added that BPL is working closely with those entities to ensure that it can create micro grids that will bypass Marsh Harbour.

“For those of you who don’t know, these are going to have to be grids that essentially bypass Marsh Harbour. If any of you have been in Marsh Harbour you can see the state of destruction in that community,” he said.

“We may have as many as 3,000 poles that are down. So, there is a plan to generate electricity by means of creating micro grids and by utilizing the under sea cable (submarine cable) to send power from a number of places on the mainland to those cays. That is the plan that BPL is working on now along with a plan for renewable [energy].”

The minister said he could not give a timeline for this project because these are very challenging issues.

He added that the power company is considering bringing in stronger poles, planting them, rewiring the island, bringing in new generation, and ensuring that the lines are safe.

He said that BPL is more concerned about the well-being of the public at this time.

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