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Sub-station blaze hits power for thousands

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

AN electrical fire at Bahamas Power and Light’s Baillou Hills sub-station over the weekend left parts of southwestern New Providence without power for periods up to 12 hours.

The blaze, which was detected around 9.45pm on Saturday, marked the fourth fire at a BPL plant in over a week.

In a statement released by the energy provider late yesterday evening, officials said smoke was initially detected at the 11KV sub-station at the Baillou Hills plant.

BPL employees on duty reportedly attempted to extinguish the fire while calling in support from Police Fire Services, who arrived on site and extinguished the blaze.

The statement read: “Preliminary investigations suggest that the electrical fire in the substation was caused by equipment failure. A full investigation has been launched into the cause of this failure. Foul play is not suspected at this time.”

It added: “As a result of the fire customers in the following areas experienced power outages: Fire Trail, Carmichael, Golden Gates, Pride Estates, Bel Air, Portions of Harold Road, Yellow Elder, Stapledon and Millennium Gardens. Power was restored to all affected customers by 10:00am this morning. BPL’s engineers are currently working to repair the damaged substation.”

BPL said it expects the sub-station to be back in service by this evening, informing customers in the affected areas to expect temporary outages until the work is completed.

When contacted for comment on the recent blaze and extended outage, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union President Paul Maynard yesterday issued a warning of his own, telling the thousands of Bahamians depending on BPL for their energy supply to be prepared for “more of the same”.

Mr Maynard in his warning explained that most of the equipment being at BPL has already “done all it can,” insisting that the company has to get serious about replacing its old machines.

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone,” Mr Maynard told The Tribune yesterday. “The boards being used for transmission and distribution have run their course.”

Often outspoken, Mr Maynard added: “These types of issues will continue as long as we depend on this ancient equipment. We need to get serious about making the necessary changes and stop this shock and surprise when things break down.”

Meanwhile, Progressive Liberal Party Chairman, Senator Fred Mitchell in a statement of his own, implored the Minnis administration to provide the Bahamian people with a “full, frank and honest” explanation on the circumstances surrounding the latest fire at the BPL’s Baillou Hill sub-station.

“With four fires in one week,” Mr Mitchell noted,”the public is understandably losing confidence in the current administration’s ability to competently manage BPL and facilitate the much needed energy sector reform this government promised.”

“If the substantive Minister is not up to the task, he should be mercifully relieved of this duty in the public interest.”

He added: “To date be the government has managed to politically interfere with the work of the BPL board and needlessly incurred additional expenses in excess of one hundred million dollars in equipment damage stemming from these fires.”

“This total break down in leadership is inexplicable and inexcusable.

“Dr Minnis said he had no plans or vision for BPL and the voluntary separation exercise, followed by these catastrophic fires are turning out to be a self fulfilling prophecy. We pray that God helps us all in the midst of this haplessness and crisis in leadership.”

Comments

tell_it_like_it_is 4 years, 2 months ago

The government needs to get this BPL situation in order because this is just ridiculous!

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geostorm 4 years, 2 months ago

Agreed, the government needs to get a hold on what is going on with BPL. For the life of me, why are we not using solar power? We are spending money on equipment when we can invest in solar energy. Goodness, collaborate with other countries who are successfully using this form of energy and follow suit. All of this sun we have around us, why are we not there yet?

As for Mr. Mitchell, please have several seats. What did your government do to improve the situation at BPL? We are at this place now because of your government's failure to improve BPL. We, the Bahamian people do not want to hear from you!

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ohdrap4 4 years, 2 months ago

All of this sun we have around us, why are we not there yet?

Because it costs oozes and caboozes to store said energy.

Solar energy stored in batteries actually increases consumption and CO2 emissions.

Lithium battery disposal is a problem too.

Solar energy and wind energy just aint there yet.

Only talk show callers believe so.

As to these other countries, go ask them, turns out solar energy is more expensive to deliver.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 2 months ago

Is it possible that the emoloyees let go in the foolish VSEP everybody in exchange for high paying consultant contracts exercise dreamed up by the CEO, were applying chewing gum and duct tape to the machine and now that noone is there to wstch the looming failures and McGiver them, everything is 100% breaking down?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 2 months ago

The presence of a CEO and board where not one member has ten years or more experience successfully running a power plant at the executive levels is gross negigence on the part of the Minnis administration

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concernedcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

Its been about 30 to 40 years of gross negligence .Producing electricity from diesel generators is not a new or extremely complicated process ,yet for the past 40 years we have been unable to do it despite charging consumers an arm and a leg .It is time to give an established large company majority ownership ,like the telephone company w ,Liberty and Aliv .It also gets rid of a lot of union problems b/b then they can,t strong arm governments for there votes ..40 years is all the proof I need that we can,t keep the lights on ,,and I don,t care FNM ,PLP, the union , maintinance ,,makes no difference we can not keep the lights on

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 2 months ago

This is getting ridiculous now. BEC just cannot get its act together. Maybe the DNA was right with their dropcord idea. Bahaimians obviously cannot manage a power company....

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BMW 4 years, 2 months ago

Can't manage a power company, look at the country after 40 years of managing ourselves! Think about it.

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