By Khrisna Russell
Deputy Chief Reporter
MINUTES after Bahamas Power and Light’s CEO Whitney Heastie outlined steps BPL plans to scale down service disruptions in anticipation of the hot summer, New Providence was struck by an island wide power outage.
In its first of many press statements yesterday updating customers of the situation, the company said the outage happened around 11.30am yesterday because of an equipment failure at one of the substations at the Blue Hills Power Plant.
However, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard said the disruption in service was due to an explosion at substation eight in the Blue Hills Plant.
By 1pm, BPL said downtown Nassau, hospitals, the Royal Bahamas Police Force Headquarters, the Hilton Hotel, Collins Avenue North and surrounding areas had been restored. A short while later the electricity provider said 45 percent of the island was reconnected, while thanking customers for their patience.
When it updated consumers at 4pm, BPL said 75 percent of the island’s power was restored. At this time the Soldier Road area, Lyford Cay, Coral Harbour and Cable Beach were the only areas left for restoration, BPL said.
Officials predicted the restoration efforts would have begun in about four to five hours from the start of the outage, however the first areas were reconnected in about an hour.
Consumers reacted on social media with questions and frustrations regarding the outage.
One Facebook user said: “I’m still trying to understand how a sub-station failure had the whole island out...”
Another user complained: “Meanwhile there are accidents happening in almost every ghetto neighbourhood because the stop lights off and nobody wants to let anyone through.”
Another angry resident wrote: “I hope we get a discount; it seems that when the power is off the metre spins faster because when the bill comes out the bill is higher not lower.”
As he spoke to reporters yesterday, Mr Heastie said while there will be issues, steps are being taken to correct certain problems specifically in New Providence, Abaco and Bimini.
He said: “When we look at New Providence there are a number of issues in New Providence starting from the generation system all the way through the distribution network, including the transmission. We’ve been working aggressively on the generation facilities making sure that all of the major overhauls are completed in time for summer, these are engines as with any engine be it a car, do require routine and major (maintenance) and so we are working aggressively to make sure we meet (this) not only schedule, but . . . to keep these engines running during the high summer months.”
On the transmission side, he said BPL was working on what it considered the soft spots, including Stapledon Gardens where BPL workers have gone through and looked at the poles and wires to make sure there were no failing mechanisms as lack of maintenance does not cause electricity to be interrupted.
There are 90,000 BPL customers in the capital, representing the lion’s share of BPL customers.
He also said: “I don’t anticipate there won’t be issues. We will have issues, but we do anticipate that as they occur that we would understand a bit better what they are and can attack them in a systematic and responsible way.”