By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT of the Bahamas Electrical Workers Union Paul Maynard said yesterday unless the equipment at Bahamas Power and Light is changed “immediately”, Bahamians should expect a long summer of blackouts.
In an interview with The Tribune, Mr Maynard said at least $250m is needed to purchase new generators. He said unless the investment is made, the state of electricity service in the country will never change.
Mr Maynard said BPL has rented 40 megawatts of power in preparation for the summer months and another 40 megawatts is on its way. However, he said, if the “old ancient” generators don’t stay on, the rented machines won’t do much to stop the generation issues.
“Unless we change the equipment and the fuel, nothing will change. We have to get serious and do what we have to do, we have to go to natural gas and gas turbine,” Mr Maynard said.
“The machines are ancient and old and they keep breaking down. We will continue to have these issues and the blackouts and the outages until the machines are changed. Some days they will work fine and other days they break down and it takes a while to get them back up. It will cost at least $250m to get new machines and someone needs to find the money or we will always be in problems.”
On Wednesday, BPL announced “outage rotations” throughout New Providence as the corporation continued to grapple with “generation challenges” at its power stations.
In one of several statements, BPL said customers would experience power outages in two-hour intervals “until further notice.”
Customers were advised to check BPL’s Facebook page for continued updates on the affected areas. At 10.30pm Wednesday, a statement said one engine had been returned to service to provide enough capacity to meet customer demand on the island while repairs were completed on two others.
But a severe thunderstorm, which produced lightning strikes, then damaged BPL’s transmission and distribution networks, causing further outages in several communities across the island.
The company said crews were working through the night to carry out repairs and restore power.
This failure to keep the lights on came 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.