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Power cuts may be looming

BPL says it’s facing ‘issues with fuel logistics’

Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) is advising customers to brace for possible power cuts due to fuel issues at its Blue Hills Power Plant.

“Bahamas Power and Light Company Ltd. confirms that we are currently experiencing issues with fuel logistics at the Blue Hills Power Plant. The service provider in question, Sun Oil Limited, has assured that all necessary steps are being taken to remedy the matter, and we are working jointly to stabilize the power supply while corrective actions are implemented,” BPL and Shell said in a joint statement yesterday.

“Until the solutions are fully implemented, some customers may experience short outages.”

But BPL said nothing further on the matter even after The Nassau Guardian attempted to obtain a clearer explanation on what it meant by “issues with fuel logistics”.

BPL Chairman Dr. Donovan Moxey and Director of Communications Quincy Parker both declined to comment when reached.

Former Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard suggested to The Nassau Guardian that BPL dropped the ball in preparing for increased demand due to rising temperatures.

“It’s been very hot lately, so they’re using more fuel than they normally would,” Maynard said.

“[BPL] and Shell have to work it out. Shell has to find a way to get them that ADO (automotive diesel oil).”

Yesterday evening, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Leader Philip Brave Davis, who was minister responsible for BPL under the Christie administration, said the public is owed a fuller explanation on the current state of affairs at the company.

“Obviously, there have been challenges with providing affordable and reliable electricity and they’re now indicating, and/or blaming, logistical issues with fuel supply,” Davis said.

“Now, that’s rather odd. Fuel is a commodity you should be able to access.

“The blame or excuse that they’re now using for the challenges that they’re experiencing is being veiled by this thought of logistical issues relating to fuel supply. Unless you understand what these logistical issues are, we are still left in the dark with the same old, same old lack of transparency and lack of frankness as to what is actually happening with BPL.”

Davis said the bottom line is that “BPL is failing”.

He said the brief statement issued by BPL begs more questions than it answers.

Davis said “we need an informed view of what is actually happening”. 

“We’re going to have power cuts and we’re going to have load shedding,” he predicted. 

“…They’re not going to be able to supply electricity as they have been saying they will be able to.”

New Providence, where the majority of BPL’s customers reside, has been plagued with power outages for decades as a result of generation shortages at BPL.

The power company touted the installation of seven new Wartsila engines at its Clifton Pier Power Station as a cure for the issue of frequent load shedding.

The new engines were installed in December 2019.

“We have been working miracles to keep a severely debilitated generation fleet online, plagued by old machines that have – for various reasons – not been maintained as well as they could have been, and also by a growing demand for electricity that has taxed our ability to supply,” BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said in December 2019.

“Now, with the replacement power out of Clifton Pier, we can shift our baseload generation – that is, the first power to the grid and the foundation of our power supply – to Station A, which means we’re burning cheaper, more efficient fuel with more reliable engines first. Our customers will see the difference.”

Mechanical failure at BPL’s Station A power plant – which houses the new engines – caused an hours-long power outage that impacted several communities across New Providence in February.

BPL said yesterday it will advise customers through its social media outlets, websites and via local media, should power cuts become necessary.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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