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Expat Expert To Study Bpl System

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

A foreign expert who will be contracted by Bahamas Power and Light to gauge its electrical service system for potential instabilities will arrive in the country next month, according to BPL chairwoman Darnell Osborne.

She said the timeline for this analysis and its cost will be contingent on where the investigation takes the specialist. 

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mrs Osborne said the move was shifted to an immediate focus following Sunday’s massive system failure, which BPL said was caused by “inclement weather”.

BPL’s CEO Whitney Heastie told The Nassau Guardian on Monday the company was unable to find a local specialist, and therefore, considered it best to contract a foreign specialist.

He also described the planned assessment as a detailed overview of BPL’s system to find the “most vulnerable” segments based on several case-by-case tests.

Further clarifying the move yesterday, Mrs Osborne said: “This was in the making prior to Sunday’s incident but since another outage has occurred we have focused attention on bringing the person on the ground as soon as possible.”

She added: “The person is scheduled to be on the ground beginning of June. The system evaluation is in direct relation to the outage and the time and cost is contingent on where their investigation takes them to get to the root cause.”

When asked about any budget or time restraints, she said: “We need to get to the root cause of the problem in order to fix it. We need a permanent fix once and for all. This has been years in the making and patching along the way but we need to get root cause analysis.”

BPL has been plagued with legacy failures in its generation system. That in addition to major issues with its transmission and distortion system.

In a separate interview with The Tribune this week, Mr Heastie said plans were also being finalised to “systematically improve” both areas.

Of generation, Mr Heastie said BPL has, in recent years, ensured that all the islands it provides services to were operating with sufficient generation. 

He said Bimini was the latest island to be brought “up to par” with its shortfall in this area.

Mr Heastie said the only drawback that could exist, would come in instances where poor weather adversely affect plants - similarly to what occurred Sunday.

“An analysis of our system shows we have sufficient generation on all four of the islands we operate in, but if a problem happens, it will be in spots where generation is affected by weather,” he said. 

“Pray to God we don’t have any lightning,” he added. “When you get the rain with all that lightning, that’s when you have the problem. Our substations will produce the power, but the transmission could be shutdown. Obviously lightning strikes, if they hit lines, it cripples the system.

“That’s our worry.”

Typically, as the country moves into the summer months, weather patterns alternate between severe heat and heavy rains.

In both instances, BPL has, throughout the years, shown an inability to maintain electrical service throughout.

In January, Works Minister Desmond Bannister suggested BPL was on pace to deliver its best summer on record.

Mr Bannister made the claims during his response to concerns raised by Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, who had requested the government show any newly implemented strategies being used by the utility provider. 

The Carmichael MP seemingly viewed the request as a swipe at appointments of Mr Heastie and COO Christina Alston, and moved to defend the efforts and expertise of both appointments.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Wow. What an amazing waste of money...

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John 6 months, 2 weeks ago

So they need to bring in a foreigner to tell them BPL’s equipment is old and some obsolete. That they need to upgrade to newer and more efficient equipment and definitely equipment that does not use bunker C fuel. That they should in fact diversify the fuel use to include renewable fuel and solar energy. Most small Family Island communities can run exclusively off solar power during the daytime and Store enough energy to illuminate the streets at night. And of course the need to reconfigure the Grid in New Providence so that any one fault does not cause the entire island to go dark.

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Sickened 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Just take the expert to clifton to see the generators and the expert's 1 paragraph report can be written up and signed in about an hour after landing in Nassau. "Landed in Nassau, drove to the main generation plant at Clifton. Findings: everything is obsolete and is a safety hazard. Entire place is a shit-hole. Surprised it produces any electricity at all. Maintenance records: what little could be found was illegible. Summary: entire system needs replaced."

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joeblow 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Amazing how easily expats can get a job as a consultant. The trend continues!

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

If this foreign expert is not going to cost us like the cultural guy ....... it may be worth it.

PowerSecure should have had ALL of these records available after their expert BizPlan.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Darnell Osborne should be immediately sacked and Minnis should hang his head in shame. Senior management of BPL/BEC have already told Osborne and Minnis that the power generation system will not be able to handle peak load periods this coming summer, resulting in many long blackout and load shedding periods during the most sweltering days and nights. Osborne is wasting the taxpayers' money in hiring a foreign consultant just so that she can lay back during the many blackout and load shedding periods to come and give us the lame excuse that the problems are being studied by a foreign consultant and cannot be addressed until he or she completes and submits a report of their recommendations. This was a classic PLP tactic to deflect blame away from where it rightfully belongs. Osborne and Minnis are disgracefully using the Christie play book, thinking they can fool us into believing they know what they are doing when in fact the BPL/BEC problems are well known to all but, because of the incompetence of Osborne and Minnis, have not been properly addressed much sooner. Why we Bahamians suffer such fools, God only knows!

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Sickened 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Seems like the summer months have snuck up on BEC yet again!

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The_Oracle 6 months, 2 weeks ago

SWER. There's your problem. Look it up. No annual testing of ground wells. (required when SWER is used in rural areas of the US) Remedial stuff peeps.

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Porcupine 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Thanks for the info. Interesting.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

But all they had to do was go right across to GB and ask EMERA how they can keep the lights on 24/7 ......... But we just love to go a-foreign .... SMT

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