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Power crisis creates growing misery

As he sat shirtless and sweating on his front porch yesterday, Clermilis Jean, of Ferguson Street, said that despite paying his Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) bill every month, he spends hours a day without electricity.

“My lights are gone,” Jean said.

“Every day they are gone, and I pay every month.”

He added, “It’s hot bad. Everybody is hot bad.”

Since May, New Providence residents have suffered through hours of constant load shedding as BPL attempts to meet the high demand for electricity that comes with the summer months.

Throughout the Bain and Grants Town area, residents sat in their yards, trying to escape the heat of their powerless homes.

One man who lives in the area but asked not to be named said the outages have been “torture”.

“It’s ridiculous and it should not be like that. I understand they had to send one of the generators to Bimini and all of that, but regardless, it should not be going on like this. From 9 o’ clock last night to 12, it is ridiculous, and it should never happen.

“It is ridiculous for you to sit in your car and run your air conditioning from the car because it’s hot, for hours. That means you’ve got to make sure your car is full of gas, and it’s not fair.

He added, “You could imagine open doors along with these mosquitoes? And the mosquitoes ain’t friendly. They say they spraying but the thing they spraying look like it’s bringing more mosquitoes.

“I wouldn’t even talk about the rats. You scared to keep your door open cause the rats them going to be your friend in no time. So the heat, mosquitoes, rats and all of them, you could imagine how we feel.”

Samuel Cleare said it is too hot to have to deal with the power being turned off so frequently.

“I think it’s pretty awful,” he said.

“They could do better with the light and current, because how it’s summer now, people need the current on.

“You need the current, because the weather is hot and you need the air condition and thing inside the house.”

Seven weeks ago, Bernard Miller of Miller’s Welding, was struggling with running his business due to repeated power outages.

Yesterday, he told The Nassau Guardian that he had to spend nearly $3,000 to purchase a generator to keep his business going.

“That’s savings that I had to go into. Before I was suffering.”

He added, “It’s comfortable working [now], but like I said, it’s profits I had to go into that could have been savings.”

While Miller was able to afford a solution, Vardo Miller of BBB Construction is still struggling with the frequent power cuts.

“From between now to 9 a.m. and 11 p.m., we expect power to cut off every day this week, because that’s what’s been happening,” he said.

“And that ain’t a good thing.

“I work all day. When they cut the power off in the evening, I’m still working. So it’s affecting me a lot.

“And then sometimes they’ll [cut it off] in the middle of the job and you have workers on the job, power cut off and you don’t have a generator, what happens? You’ve got to pay those workers to be standing up waiting unless you have something else for them to do.”

On Sunday, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie could not guarantee an end to load shedding in the immediate future, describing BPL as being “on a cliff”.

Heastie said BPL needs 250 megawatts (MW) of generation in order to meet the summer demand.

However, it is currently running on 210 MW, including 105 MW of rental generation.

Heastie said the 40-MW shortfall has led to the load shedding across New Providence.

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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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