Following a power outage that lasted over five hours in parts of New Providence Monday night, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union (BEWU) President Paul Maynard warned that such outages are likely to continue until Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) transmission and distribution (T&D) system is upgraded.
The outage came only one day after the power company announced that its new 130-megawatt Wartsila power plant was online. After months of relentless load shedding, BPL assured the public that the installation of the plant would bring relief, but many customers were frustrated when that seemed not to be the case.
In a press release, BPL said the outage was due to “technical difficulties”.
Just over two weeks ago, an island-wide outage that lasted hours was attributed to a fault in a main power line near the Blue Hill Power Station. Since then, numerous parts of the island have experience outages due to technical difficulties or faulty lines.
Maynard has warned of the potential impact from the outdated T&D system several times before.
“We have a broken system,” he said in an interview with The Nassau Guardian yesterday.
“We’ve got ancient equipment on our system. We’ve got bad cables, etc. And that’s what’s going to happen.”
Maynard said it is his understanding that some of the funds to be acquired through BPL’s rate reduction bond will go toward upgrading the T&D system, but said he is not sure it will be enough.
“They are saying that they’re going to spend about $70 million on the T&D system. I think it needs about $100 million.
“…It’s going to cost you.”
The Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill, 2019, which was debated and passed in the House of Assembly last month, will establish a legislative framework for BPL to raise $650 million through a rate reduction bond.
According to Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister, $321.1 million of the funds raised will be used to refinance BPL’s debt, $28 million for solar installations on the Family Islands, $15 million to convert Family Island generation facilities to liquefied natural gas, $15 million for fiberglass cooling pipe replacement, $30 million for an advanced metering infrastructure project and $6 million for system reinforcement and customer connections.
He also said that $48.1 million will be used for 132-kilovolt transmission and substation upgrades, $34.9 million for line upgrades and extensions, $24.7 million for other substation upgrades and $14.3 million for 34.5-kilovolt line upgrades.