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Bpl’S New Philosophy Begins To Bear Fruit

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemdia.net

BAHAMAS Power & Light’s top executive said yesterday he envisages at least five islands operating as “stand-alone” operations, describing such a move as ‘healthy’ for the utility.

Speaking to Tribune Business yesterday during a brief assessment of the company’s Abaco operations, BPL CEO Whitney Heastie said: “Today everything is consolidated, financially and even non-financially such as the procurement of goods and materials. The majority of it comes to New Providence and is then disseminated. That adds a cost to the company.”

“There are at least five islands that we deem major operations, inclusive of Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma and New Providence. Those islands we see as having the ability to stand alone, have their own financials, their own operations and the ability to make decisions locally so that at the end of the day their success or lack thereof is dependent on themselves. New Providence should be there as a support mechanism.”

Mr Heastie said he envisages such a model as the ‘future’ for the company.

“With that model we see that as the future,” he said.

“When things tend to start to fail in one of these islands you could then, by having your own books, look from a financial and operational perspective and see where it is failing and how to provide support. I think at the end of the day it is healthy for the overall company. Every tub has to sit on its own bottom. That’s the approach I want us to go to and I think that at the end of the day it will be healthy overall not only for the company but for residents of the Bahamas.”

Since taking the helm at BPL Mr Heastie has been determined that his executive team join him in a commitment to ‘changing the way we do business’.

In Abaco the results of that new philosophy have already begun deliver to with the local operation power credited for a ‘noticeable’ improvement in its Abaco service in recent months.

Joe Macellan, BPL’s director of operations on Abaco told Tribune Business yesterday the utility company had undertaken several initiatives to improve its overall service to its roughly 8,900 customers in the Abacos. Back in February the Abacos suffered a weekend-long power outage as a result of a blown pump. The prolonged outage was said to have caused “havoc” for Abaco and its tourist economy.

“It’s a work in progress for sure. There were a lot of initiatives taken as a result of those power outages. We were able to get some of the equipment in place and just started to change the way we do business, in transmission and distribution and in our internal operations,” said Macellan.

The BPL executive said the company was also taking steps to improve training, maintenance, staff safety and its communications.

James Albury, MP for South and Central Abaco told Tribune Business: “I think most people would agree that there is still a ways to go, outages happen but if we’re being objective things have been better this summer, generally speaking.”

Last summer, Abaco resorts blamed frequent power outages for having “really put a damper” on the summer holiday period, with many frustrated guests having vowed to never return.

“Generally speaking, the power has been on a lot more and even restoration times are much quicker. Last summer we have major challenges, with island wide outages taking everything out of commission. Most people can say they have noticed an improvement in service from BPL. I do believe that we have the leadership and technical know-how on the ground to keep pushing us forward and rectify the issues,” Albury added.

Bruce Missick, acting foreman for underground and maintenance, told Tribune Business: “This is probably one of the best summers we have had as far as electricity is concerned. A lot of the changes here have been centred around safety. Last year, if something major happened it would take the entire island offline. That is not the case anymore. We had a lot of protection issues in the past. A lot of that has been rectified. We still have a lot to do but we are moving in the right direction. We still have some really old cables in the cays and we’re trying to rectify those.”

Time will tell if Heastie’s cultural revolution in the management of BPL delivers the reward both he and his customers yearn for.

Comments

DDK 1 year ago

The stand alone model sounds like a sensible plan, as long as each island helps the other in the event of emergency, and each island has competent non-political management at the helm. Fingers crossed. So far, so good!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year ago

Whitney Heastie expects Abaco, Bimini, Eleuthera, Exuma to stand alone by maintaining "their own financials, their own operations and the ability to make decisions locally so that at the end of the day their success or lack thereof is dependent on themselves." He goes on to state that "New Providence should be there as a support mechanism.” The man clearly has lost his marbles if this means each of these islands must now hire and bear the cost of accounting and administrative personnel to attend to their own billings, collections, payments and other tasks and record keeping functions. Heastie seems to have no understanding of how economies of scale are necessary to achieve significant cost reductions. His proposal that each of these islands have their own "mini" BPL structure with only minimal support from BPL New Providence is just plain dumb. And what about Long Island, Cat Island, Andros to name a few? I suspect Heastie has zero management skills as it seems he knows very little about how to use low cost communication platforms and other technologies available today to effectively and efficiently manage the geographically dispersed segments/operations of an enterprise like BPL. If BPL in Abaco is indeed doing as well as he asserts, then you can bet it's got a lot more to with the management talent and efforts of whomever is running the show on that island than it does with anything Heastie would like to take claim for having done or accomplished.

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DDK 1 year ago

The time wasted in getting supplies form A to B and often from C to B, all the bureaucratic red tape and delay, results in hours and hours of unnecessary loss of power, which results in lost revenue, tourist booking cancellations etc, etc. Bulk fuel and equipment purchasing can still be done with supplies dropped off at their respective plants. Many companies operate with a parent in one location and outlets in others. Give the man's marbles a chance. What we have had for the last fifty years clearly has not worked.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year ago

What you're talking about is how BPL/BEC has operated for decades. But Heastie is not talking about "outlets". He's talking about duplicative "mini" BPLs. The islands, with the exception of NP and GB, are just too small a market to support "mini" BPLs.

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BahamaLlama 1 year ago

Are they operating with solar, without BPL? Then they're not bearing fruit,

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akbar 1 year ago

Step Two . Relinquishing the cost burden of the Family Island Operations. A factor which has hindered the sale of BPL/BEC. Step One has already taken place. The labour cost and the pension issue partially solved. The privatization of BPL/BEC is imminent. My only question is why so secretive? Why isn't this present administration being upfront with the plan? Who are the prinicipal potential investors? How much role does WTO ascension play in all this? Our leaders have always had ths "patronizing" attitude towards us. Only they know best it seems. All they do is discourage dialogue so that they can do as they will, usually for their personal benefit and at the public expense. The Bahamas is really a corrupt place and as long as citizens can burn their AC and watch mind enslaving tv they quite satisfied. Demand more. Peace and God is Great!

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Sickened 1 year ago

Spanish Wells has run it's own power since I was a kid. They have done it successfully, the bigger islands (Abaco, mainland Eleuthera etc.) should be able to do it as well.

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