By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light (BPL) restoration of full power to Abaco following four days of "unnerving" outages was greeted with relief yesterday as businesses and residents began to determine the cost.
Darnell Osborne, BPL's chairman, told Tribune Business that persons who attended a Town Meeting on Monday night to discuss the issue were understandably angry over the rolling blackouts and load shedding. "There were angry customers, which was understandable, but I think they understood the position we explained to them," she said.
"We explained the dilemma that we met with the pump. We had ordered the pump but, unfortunately, the pump that was there failed before the replacement parts arrived in the Bahamas. They had already been ordered but the pump expired before they could get here, so we had to put an express on it. We are now back up. From 6.41am Wilson City was fully restored. The parts got in Monday night. We ordered two, one as a back-up. They were fully restored by 6.41am."
Businesses and residents expressed relief that the situation appeared to have been rectified. "I'm glad that it seems to be getting sorted out now. The power came back on this morning but just went out 15 minutes ago," one businessman told Tribune Business.
Lance Pinder, operations manager at Abaco Big Bird Farm, said that while the power woes did not directly affect the farm's operation it did affect restaurant sales.
"We have full back-up power from our generator but it is very un-nerving to be using emergency power for so long," he said. "It also has affected our restaurant sales somewhat, and with tourists leaving the island it has the potential to affect our overall sales now and in the future. We also had to burn $2,000-$3,000 dollars worth of diesel over the few days."
BPL reported that there was a total system shutdown on Abaco at around 8 am, caused by "a sudden and unexpected fault" occurring with the cooling system at the Wilson City power station. The island then had to endure a 'load shedding' schedule for the next three days, with whole areas of Abaco without power for hours at a time.
A blown cooling system pump was blamed for the power woes with McMahon Campbell, a BPL communications officer, indicating that this had resulted in "a complete shut down" of BPL's main power generation facility on the island.
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".
BPl, in a statement on its Facebook page yesterday, said: "BPL in Abaco wishes to advise that supply has been fully restored to the mainland and cays. The company apologises for the inconvenience, and would like to thank the residents and visitors of Abaco for their patience."