By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE first set of rental generators secured for Bahamas Power and Light have arrived and Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said the utility provider will no longer be load shedding.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Maynard said the government is also working to “secure” the additional funding needed to purchase new equipment to replace the “old, unreliable” generators. In the meantime, he said the additional 50 megawatts of rental power is expected to reduce, if not eliminate, load shedding and further blackouts this summer.
“The first 25 megawatts have already arrived and the other 25 megawatts will be here by the end the week, which means the worst of it is over,” Mr Maynard, whose union represents workers at BPL, said.
“The government is making attempts to secure financing to get the new equipment we need and to make sure our system gets upgraded. BPL is a work in progress and so we will continue to rent the generators until we get new ones in place. I know it is being worked on expeditiously but there is no date yet on when they will be ordered.
“We are also putting in a 24-hour call centre that should be up and running in three months, to assist us in helping our customers faster. We have also implemented mandatory training so all employees will take classes. It used to be when only the favourites were picked for training but now everyone will be trained.”
Mr Maynard said BPL has also started looking at property on the Family Islands to build solar thermal power stations.
“Teams have been going to look for enough land for us to build a solar plant. The thing is for every megawatt you need five acres. Solar panelling will help us alleviate some of the financial burden from the out islands,” he said.
“Currently, we are operating at a loss on the Family Islands. The only islands we make money from are Bimini, Abaco, Exuma and maybe Long Island. So the corporation is trying to move in that direction.”
Last month, BPL CEO Pam Hill said a lack of proper maintenance as well as extreme heat has put immense pressure on the corporation’s aging generators. She also acknowledged that power cuts this year have been more frequent than last year.
This summer, residents have endured frequent blackouts and power cuts as BPL struggled to provide adequate electricity.
This comes months after American company PowerSecure was contracted to take over management at the government-owned utility provider. The new management deal was touted by the government as being the answer to sub-par electricity service and high electricity bills.