BEC Chairman Leslie Miller
By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE first set of rental generators secured for the Bahamas Electricity Corporation will arrive this week, reducing the chance of blackouts during the summer months, according to BEC Executive Chairman Leslie Miller.
The generators will be rented for about six months at a cost of $8m. Mr Miller also said the rented generators use less fuel, which will mean a decrease in light bills over the summer.
However, Mr Miller said, with Baha Mar now fully on BEC’s grid, he is “not sure” if the 40 megawatts of power the generators will provide will be “enough”.
His comments came after residents in eastern New Providence were without power for more than eight hours over the weekend when a substation on Prince Charles Drive went offline.
“Around 7pm (Saturday), a fault occurred in the Winton transmission system at the substation on Prince Charles Drive. The BEC crew worked throughout the night and most of the power was restored around 1am on Sunday,” Mr Miller said yesterday. “However, we still have not determined what the problem was, all we know is there was a fault in the lines. When they tried to bring the system back, it created other problems.”
However, Mr Miller said, BEC completed negotiations with Aggreko – the world’s largest temporary power generation company – for the rental of equipment that would provide an additional 40 megawatts of power, which, he said, would be in place over the next month.
“The equipment will be here this week and we will have about 40 megawatts of power added to the system over the next 30 days. However, I am not sure this will be enough to get us through the summer. It was suggested that we needed at least 60 or 90 megawatts but that was decided against by some people,” Mr Miller said.
“The problem is, if something goes wrong or a machine shuts down, that will not be enough power to keep the lights on. So as a precaution I asked the company to send an extra 20 megawatts of standby power that we can use in case we need it. “At full speed, Baha Mar uses 16 megawatts so that leaves us with only 24 extra, if we only get the 40 megawatts and that will not be enough.”
Mr Miller called the rentals a short-term fix and said the only solution to BEC’s power generation issues is for the government to complete the process for BEC’s proposed reform.
The government has said it intends to select a company to take over BEC’s management. Although that process was initially expected to be completed by the end of 2013 or early 2014, Prime Minister Perry Christie has not announced the final decision.