By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
DEMOCRATIC National Alliance Deputy Leader Chris Mortimer yesterday criticised Bahamas Power and Light for the recent wave of power outages, charging that the electricity provider is “out of its depth” in providing quality electrical services for Bahamians.
Mr Mortimer, in a statement, said despite BPL being the government’s “previously touted saviour of the country’s energy sector,” it has since failed to “provide the necessary relief and reliability of services which Bahamians demand.”
Mr Mortimer said in the face of the rolling blackouts, Bahamians “have yet to see or hear the company’s long-term plans to move (BPL) forward in a meaningful way.”
His statements yesterday came as disgruntled residents across New Providence continued to endure load shedding over the weekend, which BPL had previously attributed to lack of proper maintenance as well as extreme heat that put immense pressure on its aging generators.
BPL has been load shedding intermittently for the past two weeks but there have been numerous power cuts before that as the electricity provider continues to struggle with a significant generation shortfall.
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.
“Since assuming management control of the corporation formerly known as BEC, Power Secure International, the government’s previously touted saviour of the country’s energy sector, has been unable to provide the necessary relief and reliability of services which Bahamians demand,” Mr Mortimer said. “In fact, this summer, like the ones before it, continues to be marred by lengthy outages, load shedding and overall public outrage. Even in the face of such challenges, however, Bahamians have yet to see or hear the company’s long-term plans to move the electricity provider forward in a meaningful way.”
Mr Mortimer also accused BPL CEO Pamela Hill of offering no new solutions to the rolling blackouts.
Last week, the BPL CEO acknowledged that power cuts this year have been more frequent than 2015, but said BPL is looking to bring in additional rental generators later this summer to help with reliability. In the long-term, Ms Hill said the company is looking at the viability of solar power.
“In essence, it remains business as usual for the electricity provider,” Mr Mortimer said yesterday. “Sadly, the statements made by the company’s CEO offer no innovative solutions, instead her comments suggest that the company will continue to do what has always been done.
“The reality is, however, that until we move away from the conventional ways of energy production here in The Bahamas, the consumer will continue to bear the brunt of the burden.”
Mr Mortimer said the DNA is committed to implementing the “Bahamas Clean Power Project,” a $1b plan he proposed in April of last year that he has said would transform electricity provision should the DNA become the government of The Bahamas.
Key components of that project include, but are not limited to the conversion of power generation at Clifton Pier to General Electric LM600 aero derivative gas turbines within three months of coming to office, committing to a target of 40 per cent renewable power by 2027, as well as the design and construction of a utility grade solar power facility in Andros.
“Around the globe, energy efficient countries such as Germany, Japan and Italy have crafted energy plans which use a combination of solar, wind, waste and even energy to create forward thinking energy policies which have benefited their people,” Mr Mortimer said. “The introduction of such ideas backed by strong and well thought-out legislation cannot only improve reliability and lower costs but have an immediate positive impact on the quality of life for our people.”
On Sunday, BPL began load shedding for what the company said would be one-hour intervals in various areas across New Providence. Power outages were also reported on Saturday.
On Sunday, former State Environment Minister Phenton Neymour said customers would continue to suffer power outages if BPL does not get $200m to turn it into an efficient power-generation entity.