More than $30 mil. spent on Abaco power restoration

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) officials said more than $30 million has already been spent on the restoration of electricity on Abaco in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

They said they could not say how much more will have to be spent to complete the process.

“To date, finance advised us that we would have spent just over $30 million on the restoration effort,” BPL Chief Operations Officer Ian Pratt said during a press conference yesterday.

He added, “When it comes to cost, naturally, all that work that we’ve been talking about has been extremely costly. The cost elements include wires, poles, the hardware on the materials side, as well as buckets, diggers, trailers, generators, etc. on the equipment side.

“Of course, [there are] staff costs, regular time and overtime as well as the contractors’ cost, the consultants that we had to look at the power stations, travel, housing, food, laundry, all of that for the teams, as well as shipping materials out of the U.S. and out of New Providence.”

Pratt said that while the company is working to restore electricity to customers, there is much work left to be done to repair the network, and it is unclear how much it will cost.

“We’re putting in temporary generation, and then we still have to go back and knit the network back together,” he said.

“And so…on the mainland of Abaco, we are aiming towards having power restored as of September, but we will be working long after that in terms of rebuilding the redundant lines.”

Ten months after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, many Abaconians remain without electricity. BPL said the remainder of the island should be connected to power by September.

According to BPL, Pelican Shores and Little Orchard will be fully restored by July 19. Murphy Town and Guana Cay will be restored by August 2.

BPL expects restoration in north Treasure Cay to be completed between August 9 and August 16. Leisure Lee and Bahama Coral Island are expected to be restored by September 13.

However, even in areas where electricity has been restored, many residents have yet to benefit due to a shortage of Ministry of Works inspectors.

BPL Public Relations Director Quincy Parker said the ministry is working to remedy the issue, but noted it is outside of BPL’s purview.

 Pratt said the ministry has hired more inspectors to help speed up the process.

“The ministry has employed some additional inspectors as well,” he said.

“In the past, they were able to deputize electricians on the island and sometimes utilize that resource, but given the level of repairs necessary, however, that is not something they have been able to call upon in this instance.”

Pratt noted that in some of the cays, where temporary generation has been put in place, damaged subsea cables that have historically serviced the communities, still have to be repaired or replaced.

“Some of the longer runs have to be replaced in their entirety, and you’re talking roughly about 19 miles of subsea cable that must be replaced,” he said.

Reflecting on the overall response of BPL to Hurricane Dorian, Parker acknowledged that the company should have been more proactive in distributing information to Abaconians.

“It is easier to say this is what we’re doing and why early rather than late,” he said.

“And I have had some issues as the director of public relations with our productivity in speaking to the Abaco community. And I think we’ve learned that we can do a better job as a company with being proactive with respect to the sharing of information.”

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