By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
LOAD shedding yesterday in New Providence sparked worry among business owners regarding Bahamas Power and Light’s ability to keep the electricity on without interruption as the hot summer months approach.
An unexpected power generation problem triggered load shedding in two-hour intervals in the majority of the island affecting many local business who told The Tribune they believed yesterday’s occurrence was a preview of what is to come.
This came days after BPL chairman Donovan Moxey told the Nassau Guardian the company did not anticipate any load shedding this summer. “We don’t expect any load shedding,” Mr Moxey said last week. “There are several generation assets that we’re looking to make sure that we maintain properly [and] appropriately so that we will be ready for the summer. We are also looking at bringing in some additional rental generation to cover the needs in the summer. So from our perspective, we’re doing everything that we can in order to prepare for the load that we’re required to deliver during the summer months.”
Meanwhile BPL insiders said yesterday the power provider was battling problems with a generator that had gone offline and an internal BPL email obtained by The Tribune further confirmed this.
It said that without GT#8 there was an 18-megawatt shortfall. As a result, only 189-megawatts were available where demand required 207-megawatts.
According to BPL, the areas first affected were in east New Providence just before 10am yesterday.
These included: areas south of Soldier Road, near Kennedy Subdivision, Bernard Road, Village Road, some parts of Kemp Road and Danottage Estates.
At the same time, customers in Fox Hill were also disconnected for nearly five hours beginning at 9am as BPL conducted overhead maintenance. This affected customers on Fox Hill Road north of Step Street, including the side streets, according to BPL’s Facebook page.
Load shedding then moved to Elizabeth Estates one and two, Prince Charles east and west, Fox Hill North.
West Bay Street, John F Kennedy Drive, Coral Harbour, Lyford Cay, Carmichael Road West, Firetrail Road, and the area near SC McPherson School were also affected.
The widespread outages either caused customers to be inconvenienced because they could not use debit or credit cards as machines were offline and in other cases people were turned away from stores, some business owners told The Tribune yesterday.
Stephanie Ferguson Williams, owner of Da Vinci Printing Innovators in the Village Road Shopping Centre, said her business was greatly affected. The disruption, she said, lasted from 10am to about noon.
“We weren’t able to serve any customer for the two hours,” she said. “We had six or eight people came to the door that we weren’t able to serve. This is an Internet based businesses where customers email files so were weren’t able to do anything.
“We are concerned about load shedding. We don’t have a generator so whenever it goes off that’s something we have to deal with. It’s either that or get a generator and put yourself in more expense and that shouldn’t be.”
The Computer Store had a similar experience, with an employee telling The Tribune they did not have a generator so no transactions could occur when load shedding takes place.
Asked if there were concerns headed into the summer season, he replied: “I mean, it’s BPL!”
Another store in the Village Road area, the Craft Cottage, said one customer was inconvenienced, as they could not use the card machine.
“We are always hopeful, but judging from past experience we know that this is something that can happen again,” The Tribune was told.
According to BPL’s Director of Communications Quincy Parker, the nature of load shedding is unpredictable.
He said: “Because load shedding is an unexpected response to unforeseen circumstances I cannot really say. All I can say is we are load shedding at present and we expect to be doing so for the next few hours.”
He said the cause of the generation issues was still under investigation.
Bahamas Electricity Workers Union President Paul Maynard further confirmed that BPL was at peak generation, but said once the issues were resolved with the offline generator there should be no more load shedding.
BPL later reported that power was restored to all customers affected by load shedding in New Providence at 5.03pm, bringing the load shedding exercise that begun at 9.52am to a close.
“We are continuing to effect repairs on our generating units at Blue Hills and Clifton Pier Power Stations which came offline and caused the generating shortfall which led to load shedding. It is expected that three of these units will be returned to service by 11PM tonight which will place BPL on a more solid footing for service tomorrow.
“While we do not expect any load shedding in predominantly residential areas this evening, some trimming of load may occur in the mainly commercial areas such as Palmdale, Shirley Street, Mackey Street etc if required,” BPL said in a brief statement.