By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Abaco resorts yesterday said frequent power outages have "really put a damper" on what is shaping up as "an extraordinarily strong summer", saying many frustrated guests have vowed to never return.
Molly McIntosh, general manager of the Bluff House Beach Resort and Marina, said Abaco's tourism sector had suffered a tremendous hit as a result of Bahamas Power & Light's (BPL) outages, telling Tribune Business: "The disruptions in power have had a big effect on our business.
"Bluff House had a group in last weekend and it was a group of private pilots. They arrived and were so excited to be here, some of them on the first trip to the Bahamas. We didn't know what to say as we had no information. We looked like a bunch of bumbling idiots because we didn't know what to tell them.
"The day they got here the power was off for almost 12 hours. They managed to have fun but we could tell they didn't believe us when we told them on Saturday that this was not normal for the power to go off for such long periods twice in two days."
Ms McIntosh added: "We also had very unhappy boaters and other rooms. One couple said that they have not had a vacation in eight years, and had heard such good things about Abaco, Green Turtle Cay and Bluff House, and they left early very disappointed, while another boater said that there is no way they were staying and paying to be hot, uncomfortable and with no Internet, no water and no power.
"One of our ice machines was affected by a power 'brown out' and doesn't make ice now. We couldn't keep up with the demand for ice and had to purchase ice for drinks. People are really furious about this. I'm not trying to bash anyone, but I just think we need to take this very seriously and get it fixed. We might as well close our doors if we have no electricity, water or Internet. No one can stand this heat without air conditioning, and when the power goes off the water goes off, so people can't flush the toilets or take a shower."
Stephen Kappeler, the Treasure Cay Resort Marina and Golf Course's general manager, said Abaco's power woes had "really put a damper on an extraordinarily strong summer and a lot of traffic we worked hard to get here".
"It's really hard to walk around the resort and not get your head taken off," he added. "The guests are obviously upset because this is not the standard where they come from. Our own staff that have to serve the guests have no power.
"The resort has back up power but the marina doesn't. Not a lot of guests are leaving, probably considering how much they paid to get here, but they are mad, uncomfortable and this is wrecking their vacation."
Dr Larry Carroll, owner of the Sandpiper Inn, told Tribune Business: "Thank God for a generator. It is difficult to try to run a business with power being so unreliable."
BPL yesterday acknowledged it was having challenges with its generation and distribution network in Abaco, adding that copper theft continues to be a "significant problem" responsible for a number of prolonged outages.
The company, in a statement yesterday, said it was working constantly to resolve issues responsible for the recent periods of supply interruption. "While challenges impacting the generation and distribution network are to blame, theft of copper from BPL's infrastructure continues to be a significant problem and has been responsible for a number of outages and the duration of each," BPL said.
The utility said it continues to address the challenges, and reiterated its commitment to supplying Abaco and the cays with consistent electricity.
"BPL sincerely apologises to its residential and commercial customers who have been impacted by these outages, and assures them that it is working to find immediate solutions to this problem and long-term strategies to prevent a recurrence," BPL said.