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Blackout - Explosion Hits Island's Power

By Khrisna Russell

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

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.”

Comments

Sickened 8 months ago

Once the 10,000 shanty town homes are electrified BPL will have plenty of revenue.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months ago

Summer is almost here and it seems the Minnis-led FNM government has done nothing to ensure we do not suffer in the sweltering heat because of power failures. No doubt Minnis has devoted more time to establishing the Office of the Spouse of the PM than he has to solving the summer blackout problems that have plagued the Bahamian people for more than a decade now. And to think he said over and over again during his election campaign that "it is the people's time". Instead, it appears he and his spouse have been acting as if it is their time - not our time!

Oh, and by the way, the same no doubt applies to the recurring public dump fires we will surely be suffocating from in the not too distant future.

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Socrates 8 months ago

something has got to be seriously wrong with the distribution network. there is no way a single failure should lead to an island-wide blackout. so the root of the problem has to be a lot bigger than 'equipment failure'.

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Porcupine 8 months ago

Self reliance. Do not depend on W&S Corp., BPL. Get back up power and begin the transition to solar. Get back-up water. Anyone honestly seen it get any better, in their lifetimes? It will likely get worse, before it gets better.

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TheMadHatter 8 months ago

The same thing happened while i was at the shopping mall in Ft. Lauderdale last week. The power went out and when i inquired i was told it was due to an explosion at a substation in Phoenix, Arizona.

These grids are finnicky....LOL.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months ago

I hope you're really not that gullible.

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sheeprunner12 8 months ago

The Government will make headway with BPL ........ Bannister is a bulldog Minister. The Unions might as well accept this fact and shutup and prepare for downsizing......... Too much deadweight, overheads and national financial liabilities for 1000 workers at a BROKE public entity.

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DDK 8 months ago

I sure hope you are right, but how do you teach old dogs new tricks? The correct work ethic and attention to preventative maintenance simply do not exist.

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Craig 8 months ago

Its simple, this is as result of incompetence. Incompetence at all levels, the executives, middle management, engineering, construction. There are far too many people in these departments, at the highest levels, who just dont know what they dont know. They believe they have the skills but unfortunately they are seriously lacking. Gov please put an entity in charge that has a proven track record. The existing management and technical personel are obviously lacking in many respects and dont have the humility and self knowledge to know or admit it.

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DDK 8 months ago

THE ISSUE IS BEC SIMPLY DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THE HELL IT IS DOING. HAS NOT KNOWN FOR FIFTY YEARS. FULL STOP. PERIOD.

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sheeprunner12 8 months ago

That is always the average Bahamian's cry ...... Are all of our institutions operating like that (not know what the hell it is doing)????? ........ smh

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DDK 8 months ago

And the AVERAGE Bahamian's cry is quite right. I'm shaking mine too.

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John 8 months ago

Long HOT summer. Thank God the nights are still coolish

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bogart 8 months ago

Hundreds of parents, family members along with hundreds of A grade students, 3.37 plus GPA students in Queens College Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony perspiring in Ceremony. What message does that send to some of the nations finest many of whon sacrificed and put in long hard hours for success??

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sheeprunner12 8 months ago

Soooooo, those smart people een gat no backup generator or solar????

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athlete12 7 months, 4 weeks ago

lol Idk where he was going with that

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Chucky 8 months ago

it never ceases to amaze me how many come on here and comment that nobody in BEC / BPL knows what they are doing, that nobody understands proper maintenance , and that nobody has a decent work ethic.....

yet when the subject of foreigners comes up, we all shout "we Bahamians should be doing that".

Let me make my thoughts clear, and remove all your doubts: I'm consistent in my view, that for the most part, we are an entitled society, with a majority of the population being a completely lazy, most are uneducated, have poor work ethic, low skill development, most suffer from Dunning Kruger Effect, and lets not forget dishonest and nasty people. And worst of all possibly, is that most have not and will not do anything to improve things.

So if we want improvement, we need to fire our own people, and bring in people for every area we wish to improve.

Proof is in the pudding, want power, try and find another country with so many problems. Solution, pick a country with a good system, hire them to come and take over. Want education, pick a country, get their people to come manage the whole thing.

Etc

But if you want lazy good for nothing pirates, keep the Bahamian team in place.

Our people are the lowest of the low, lest we compete with total failure states.

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athlete12 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Agree 110% we simply need to look in the mirror and realized we are the problem. So much corruption for a Christian nation.

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bogart 8 months ago

@sheepr ...first correction to comment is the honouring of s '3.37 plus GPA stuudents' should be '3.75 plus GPA students'.......these smart students have been making huge efforts and choices to learn to be the best in the nation ....and you should be aware too of the excellence of HGM in LongIsland .......question is must every one have a generator expensive item in addition to huge sums of Taxpayers VAT expended to also provide the same.??

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ThisIsOurs 8 months ago

It's the result of decades of corruption. Poor technology, systems, generators and employees. All engaged because someone at the top or the middle was getting a kickback or sex. Now 50 years later we're stuck with a hodge podge system that was not designed to be efficient. It was designed to put money in the pockets of a group of individuals.

Hubert Ingrahams 200m number was too low. No I don't have figures either, just decades of power outages from bribery bought generators and overstuffed election staff.

Would be an interesting exercise to estimate the amount of revenue lost across the island when the power is out for an hour. Cost of corruption.

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TorontoGal 8 months ago

Chucky, I must commend you as only you have made some good suggestions instead of only griping as all of the others have. We need more people to make suggestions, solutions and recommendations to these problems then force the government to start implementing them or start taking public action. Once a government realizes the people demand change they usually begin to listen.

Anyone can criticize but wise people make constructive comments and solutions. The Bahamas are a mess right now and need people to take charge and fix the multitude of problems before paradise is lost to crime, drugs and illiterate people.

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ThisIsOurs 8 months ago

Where have you been? People are always making suggestions. Who hasn't heard over the past five years the cries for solarization and wind energy? Who hasn't heard suggestions for more efficient engines? Who hasn't heard cries for appointing qualified people at the top instead of political cronies with super sized egos and a penchant for causing confusion?

It takes more than the government "knowing" or "hearing" good suggestions.

It takes honest ethical leaders. Do you believe the persons who overrode the board decision on the purchase of the last generators for BEC were interested in "good suggestions"? The board gave them a "good suggestion", they ignored it. Do you think the insurance man charged with taking a bribe on that contract was interested in "good suggestions"? They were interested in how it would benefit them personally. Nothing has changed. Do you think Paul Maynard was interested in good suggestions, he told us plainly what he wanted, he said Pamela Hill gave him everything he wanted, he had no problems with her. meaning he got more money in his pocket so he didn't care about the missing roof at the power plant until the missing roof got some bad press.

This is not as easy as "making a good suggestion". We have 50 years of engrained corruption to combat. It will take a focused, visionary, leader who loves the Bahamas more than they desire personal enrichment

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sheeprunner12 8 months ago

Chucky and Bogart ........ with all due respect, BPL is in serious deep shit because of the lack of controls and vision with its major plants in Nassau, Eleuthera and Abaco (95%) of BPL customers ....... BPL needs to divest itself of fossil fuel plants (or sell them to other providers) in the Out Islands so that it can spend more effort on its main plants ........ True that BPL subsidizes the Out Islands, but that is no excuse for how run-down these plants/lines are ..... The cost after hurricanes is exorbitant, so at least BPL should maintain control of distribution and transmission and let private providers take care of generation...... The Government has to think long and hard about BPL in the Out Islands as compared to NP/Abaco/Eleuthera.

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bogart 8 months ago

@Sheepr someting has to be done, consumers are required to pay an exhorbitant electricity bill and further subsidized by the taxpayers for them to provide a consistent product including the provisioning for backups replacements renewals repairs etc....Comsumers required bu law to pay their monthly electricity bill regardless if dey is eating starving, somebody sic, govt laid dem off children starving, borrowing money to pay, family heaping out etc...CAUSE IF THE CONSUMER DONT PAY DEY CUT YOUR ELECTRICITY OFF AND YINNA SUFFER, FRIDGE OFF, STOVE OFF........HUNDREDS ARE WITHOUT POWER SUFFER SUFFER.......ON THE OTHER HAND WHEN DEY DO BAD AND DONT PROVIDE WHAT YOU PAY DEMM FOR ITS ALWAYS SOMETING ELSE TO BLAME... One law cannot apply to the consumer ....and a different one for the non production of electricity.!!!!all of these decades....35 to 4

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ashley14 8 months ago

Why does this happen? I know the Island is in the middle of the Ocean, and it probably makes it harder to provide a uninterrupted service. What about people on oxygen, hospitals etc? This is scary for people with health problems. Some people can't endure the heat with their health problems. I'm sure the tourists find it a big inconvenience, while on a expensive vacation. I don't know the answer, but it should be given priority to fix.

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Greentea 8 months ago

Announcement of layoffs and light goes off everywhere? The system is a mess but this says sabotage. I think the way BEC/BPL underperforms has a lot to do with a lack of vision and corruption over the years but also workers protecting their interests. They aren't interested in improving the system because any improvement would result in them losing their easy bread butter and guava jam job. Most of them cannot make the money they are making at BEC anywhere else in the country.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 8 months ago

During this coming hurricane season we are all going to experience first hand the suffering that Puerto Ricans have gone through, and are still going through, as a result of corrupt politicians and their cronies that have raped, pillaged and plundered the public utility companies for decades. I can already hear Minnis and KP blaming the PLP for the long blackout periods to come in the heat of summer when they themselves have failed to do anything of substance to address the reliability of our power generation and grid system. A lot of Bahamians who are more vulnerable to excessive heat for long periods are going to die this summer, and, as Dr. Sands has recently disclosed, the morgue at PMH is already choc-a-bloc full.

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