By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
A weekend-long power outage sparked by a blown pump was yesterday said to have caused “havoc” for Abaco and its tourist economy.
Residents and persons who spent the weekend on Abaco said the island was being subjected to ‘rolling blackouts’ of two hours with power, then four hours without, as Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) worked to speed up the arrival of a replacement part from Arizona.
Abaco was without power “all day Friday”, and islanders once again predicted dire consequences for its second home and tourist-based economy, with visitors said to be “leaving left, right and centre”.
“The power in Abaco went from 8am Friday morning,” one Abaconian, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Tribune. “It was out all-day Friday. Since then it’s been on for two hours, off for four hours.
“We have tourists leaving left, right and centre; they’ve had enough. This is prime time for tourism in Abaco and it’s creating havoc here. They need to get it sorted.”
Mike Lightbourn, Coldwell Banker Lightbourn Realty’s president, who had just returned to Nassau after spending a weekend in Abaco, described the power outages as “a pain in the a”.
“We had two hours on, four hours off,” he said. “Those who don’t have stand-by generators are in trouble. The restaurant where I had breakfast this morning had to leave the door open and couldn’t do certain things because of the lack of electricity.
“The quicker they get it fixed, the better. I’m sure places like Hope Town, where it would have been hopping with people, it makes it more difficult for them. It’s something that happens a lot and just upsets people.”
A posting from The Abaconian newspaper, shared on social media among residents, said BPL officials were blaming the power outages on a blown cooling system pump at the island’s Wilson City power plant.
McMahon Campbell, a BPL communications officer, said this resulted in “a complete shut down” of BPL’s main power generation facility on the island on Friday.
He revealed that the incident happened just after the replacement pump, which had been ordered months ago, left the Arizona supplier to make its way to the Bahamas. It had been ordered to replace the current, blown part, and was said to be “custom made to be a better fit for Abaco’s systems”.
Mr Campbell said a special flight had been arranged to bring the two 3,000 pound pumps, one of which will be a back-up, to Abaco. The flight was expected to arrive at 11pm last night, and BPL is hoping to resolve the situation by this afternoon.
Alive to the reputational damage and fall-out, BPL last night announced a meeting tonight at Abaco’s Anglican Parish Hall at which it will “discuss the incident over the weekend and plans for the summer”.
“In an effort to serve you better, the chief operating officer (Christina Alston) and BPL team wants to address your concerns,” the notice read.