Minnis: This is a crisis

Despite the protestations of the minister of public works and the chairman of Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) that months of rolling blackouts on New Providence do not constitute a crisis, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday branded the situation as exactly that.

The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) last night sent a statement explaining that Minnis toured Clifton Pier Power Station and Blue Hills Power Station yesterday and was briefed by BPL officials on power generation issues.

“To the energy community, this may not fit the definition of crisis but for Bahamian families that can’t cook breakfast, fill their gas tanks, buy groceries or even charge a cell phone, this is a crisis,” said Minnis, according to the OPM.

“I understand the pain, I understand your anger and I understand the deep frustration of Bahamians throughout New Providence.”

The OPM said that during the tour the prime minister was “briefed by BPL CEO Mr. Whitney Heastie and the Minister of Public Works Hon. Desmond Bannister on the progress of work being carried out to return consistent power to the residents of New Providence”.

“The prime minister strongly reemphasized that BPL is doing all it can to fix the problems long-term, and is currently aggressively executing a plan to mitigate the shortfall in generation to ensure relief is provided to residents as soon as possible,” the OPM said.

“Prime Minister Minnis reiterated that the government is committed to doing whatever is necessary to alleviate this problem.”

BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey said recently that while BPL is “extremely challenged”, he did not consider the current situation a crisis.

Bannister also said earlier this month that the constant load shedding by BPL is “not a matter of crisis”.

He has since pledged not to speak to The Guardian because he views it as “a political instrument”.

Meanwhile, BPL’s generation issues continued over the weekend with daily power outages lasting hours at a time occurring across New Providence.

Yesterday, it was reported by a BPL representative that a 20-megawatt (MW) generator at Clifton Pier went offline for about three hours and then returned to service.

Heastie said in a press conference last week that at peak consumption, there is a generation shortage of 40 MW.

A statement from the company yesterday noted that yesterday’s load shortage was 32 MW, while today’s is expected to be 30 MW.

“We have several aging generation units out of service that can provide a combination of the needed power when they are up and running and BPL is focusing our efforts on getting those units online,” the statement noted.

One of the units, which provides 23 MW of generation, is expected to be returned to service on August 30, the company said.

“Work advanced overnight in getting the unit ready to be tested and recommissioned. Alignment on two out of three alignment requirements have been completed to perfection, and the third is underway today,” the statement said.

The second unit, which is rated at 21 MW, is expected to be returned to service on September 6.

“The diesel engine required to replace the failed one is nearly ready for installation in the unit, which will allow the unit to be moved along the path to returning to service,” the statement said.

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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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