BPL says it’s ready for summer demand

In light of a recent island-wide power outage on New Providence on Tuesday, Bahamas Power and Light Company (BPL) Chief Executive Officer Whitney Heastie said that the company has been making improvements to its ability to provide reliable power.

According to a statement by BPL, Heastie “wants consumers to be confident that the national utility is in a good position to take on the higher temperatures of the summer months”.

“BPL continues its steady improvement,” Heastie said.

“We started by firming up our generation fleet. We all know the state of disrepair the fleet was in, and we all accept that things could not have been allowed to persist in that way. So we acted, starting with generation.

“As you get generation squared away, we start to expose the other areas where we still need to do some work. Our transmission and distribution (T&D) system is vulnerable. Overhead lines, poles, transformers: during extreme conditions, they will get impacted.”

Tuesday’s midday outage left thousands of New Providence residents without power, in some areas past 1 a.m.

But Heastie stressed that the cause was neither a generation issue nor load shedding, which the island’s residents faced daily last summer.

BPL has said the outage was caused by an “electrical fault”, while Heastie noted the “significant sum of money” that has been invested into the company to improve its performance.

“We spent a significant sum of money on upgrading our generation fleet,” Heastie said.

“The hardening of our T&D infrastructure requires the same type of financial injection. This is one of the major reasons the rate reduction bond is such a vital part of our long-term strategy.”

The rate reduction bond intended to refinance BPL’s $321 million legacy debt and raise another $350 million for new spending, has not yet rolled out as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Heastie said the “improvements at BPL are paying off”.

“[B]ut we want to make it clear that this [May 12 outage] was not a generation supply issue, and that we are working steadily to harden the T&D system as we are able,” Heastie said.

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