BAHAMAS Power and Light CEO Whitney Heastie last night dismissed claims recent fires at the company’s Clifton Pier Plant could cost the energy provider as much as $150m.
The huge price of the potential repair bill was flagged up on Monday by Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard who claimed three blazes over 72 hours had left one engine destroyed, another damaged and the building housing them “finished”.
Yesterday Mr Heastie told The Tribune Mr Maynard’s number was massively wide of the mark.
“What I think he is doing is really stirring the pot,” said Mr Heastie.
“He’s told everyone we have assets that were destroyed which will cost $150m to replace when clearly that is not the case.
“Mr Maynard should know that current world trends in power projects show that one megawatt of power equates to roughly $1 million in cost.
“The two assets affected by the fires, their combined output was 63 megawatts - 31 and a half each. We’ve lost one so that’s going to be just over $30 million, not $150 million, and that includes the cost of structure to house it. I just don’t know where Mr Maynard is getting his numbers from.”
Mr Heastie explained the engines concerned were both around 20 years old and would have had to be replaced anyway.
“In truth we could have got more megawatts out of them but over the years simply weren’t doing enough to maintain them,” he added. “I think one important thing here is that when we are putting information out into the public domain it should be accurate.”
Another BPL executive added: “We can almost build a 200mw plant for $150m. Mr Maynard’s figure is ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, yesterday Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis remains concerned about recent developments at BPL, including the fires. Dr Minnis said last month he would initiate an investigation into BPL after its previous board was dissolved due to infighting and the numerous allegations that have emerged since then.
“The prime minister was first concerned about what was happening which is why he’s ordered an investigation,” Mr Newbold said at his weekly press briefing. “His mindset hasn’t changed that much. He wants that utility to function the way it is supposed to be functioning. He’s monitoring what’s going down there. BPL, like all the other institutions, has a function. It has a job to do and he wants it to do that job, provide electricity, keep the confrontations to a minimum so that people get what they pay for which is consistent, reliable and hopefully cost-effective electricity.”
Nonetheless, Dr Minnis has taken no concrete steps as yet to launch the investigation into any matter related to BPL, including the recent disintegration of its board, Mr Newbold admitted.
“He hasn’t indicated what he’s done,” he said. “He has said he’s moving to make that investigation happen. In his own mind and who he has talked to, he’s not ready to reveal that as yet but as he said he is concerned about what is happening down there.”