By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
BAHAMAS Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said yesterday that while an end is in sight to Bahamas Power and Light’s generation challenges this summer, the government has to shell out around $800m in upgrades to get rid of the electricity provider’s chronic problems in the long-term.
Mr Maynard responded further to Prime Minister Perry Christie’s admission on Monday that the management of BPL ordered rental generators too late, saying alarm was raised on this issue from as early as January this year.
He said he could not understand why these hot summer months were plagued by load shedding because management had adequate time to prepare and should have acted on the warning they received.
However, he said the issues would be remedied by the first week in August as rental units are expected to arrive in the capital late next week.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Maynard went on to castigate Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller, branding him “a dumb ass.” He was responding to recent comments from the former Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) chairman who criticised the union president, claiming he was too involved in the day-to-day operations of BPL.
To this, Mr Maynard said as union president it was his duty to ensure that BPL remains in good condition to ensure that employees have jobs.
“You know you don’t question the prime minister in what he says,” Mr Maynard said while speaking to reporters at the Bahamas Communications Public Officers Union (BCPOU) offices on Farrington Road.
“(But) I know in January, Shavaughn Cambridge made note to his colleagues in executive that if they didn’t get rental units they would have to load shed in the summer. He raised the alarm. I don’t see why we are having this problem because if he anticipated they should have acted on it.”
He continued: “They need new engines. It’s costly. What PowerSecure wants to do and what the government, the Deputy Prime Minister (Brave Davis) and the board wants to do is going to cost in the neighbourhood of $800m automatically. They need to find this money so they are working on that.
“But as I said to you the only thing that is acceptable and I am a protector of the public, the only thing that is acceptable to me is propane/natural gas turbines and that will alleviate our problems.”
On Monday, during an appearance on the “Ed Fields Live” show on Kiss FM, Mr Christie spoke about the frequent power cuts over the last few weeks.
“The difficulty is that I thought we had anticipated, that is the management of BEC and the management going forward, that we were going to have a bad summer and I knew that we had to have at least 40 megawatts in addition to what we have now - they were ordered late,” Mr Christie said.
“The fact is (that the management is) anticipating relief by a certain date that they can give. And the relief would be where you add to the capacity as it exists now; the 40 megawatts that they say should be able to balance out the challenges that we have.”
Mr Christie was referring to temporary generators that the company has ordered to assist with power generation for the summer.
Mr Miller has said that the former board of the corporation planned to provide steady electricity generation this summer by refurbishing the Clifton Pier plant, providing greater maintenance to the plant’s old generators.
Mr Miller has criticised Mr Christie’s Cabinet for not signing-off on the plan.
Mr Christie, however, seemed to suggest his plan wasn’t feasible in light of the transition the government was overseeing involving BPL.
Mr Christie said: “It’s all well and good to say you are going to fix the machines you have and the machines are going to work efficiently and so forth but it’s another expense in the transition of PowerSecure to BPL to new management to recruiting new management, all of that in transition this thing (would’ve had to take) place.”
Of the incoming generators, he said: “This is me saying now, that looking at what has happened, we could have ordered and should have ordered these things a few months before we did. The fact of the matter is they weren’t ordered. They’re now in progress. And (the management of BPL) are trying to get the extra power here.”
Mr Christie said BPL has paid for the generators with help from the government.