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Blackout Apology - But No Easy Fix

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

THREE Bahamas Power and Light generators providing nearly 70 megawatts of power to thousands of households in New Providence are offline, with one asset needing at least a month for repairs, The Tribune understands.

This means that it could be another four weeks before consumers experience some normalcy in their power supply. While 24 megawatts of the 25 megawatts from rental Agrekko units have assisted with the generation shortfall, it has done little to disrupt extended periods of load shedding.

Irate customers told The Tribune yesterday they have had enough.

“I have lost 13 ceiling fans because we have one in every room. I have lost my fridge. I have lost my water pump. I have lost four of the old-fashioned air conditioning units,” said one Blair resident who did not want to be named.

“This is ridiculous. It has been twice in one day. When I was leaving home at 8.20am to take my grandchildren to summer camp it went off and did not come on again until about 11.50am. Now I just got home to fix dinner and it is off again.

“I might as well say it, they are going to cause someone to be killed,” the angry resident said.

Another customer said she could not understand why certain areas had faced several power cuts in one day. She questioned whether the load shedding was being split evenly.

In a statement this week, BPL said it continues to vigorously pursue all avenues to address obstacles as extended load-shedding periods continued in New Providence last night.

The utility provider apologised for its inability to offer the service it is paid to give each month.

“The Bahamas Power and Light Company Ltd wishes to apologise to our customers for the power outages of this past weekend,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday. “We recognise the inconvenience such outages cause to our community, and we are working diligently to address the issues raised by ageing infrastructure and a transmission and distribution grid in need of an upgrade.

“While we are still investigating the causes for the outages, we can confirm that three of our major generation assets were out of service, which exacerbated the challenges we are facing during the summer months. The failure of these assets extended the periods of load shedding which we were forced to undertake. BPL management would like to thank the generation team for their continuing hard and brilliant work as they seek to return these assets to the grid.

“We would like to assure our customers that we are vigorously pursuing every available course of action to address these obstacles, in particular the rate reduction bond process, which will allow BPL to access a much-needed capital infusion at this critical time in our ongoing development.

“We take this moment to look forward to the completion of the 132-megawatt power plant at Station A before the end of the year. The ability of the new station to provide base load generation will allow us to address some of the issues mentioned earlier, and will help BPL provide stable, reliable electricity to our customers in a safe and more affordable manner.”

Following this statement, BPL released several load shedding announcements yesterday.

Many areas were affected in the early morning hours when customers were preparing to head to their jobs. BPL said the power would be disrupted beginning at 8.30am.

Another round of power cuts was announced and planned for 9.25am to 12.25pm.

Some residents reported load shedding last night.

Power cuts have been occurring this year as far back as mid-April and regular load shedding since June 19; BPL has been unable to definitively say when the situation is expected to get better however some officials have said to expect power cuts until October or November.

Comments

professionalbahamian 1 year, 2 months ago

BPL is just full of crap! No way they are working "diligently" to solve the problem with three units out of service- just untrue -publish why those units are out of service exactly every time - this has been going on for decades - they obviously don't have what is needed to correct the problem. Fire them all and call FPL/ Shell- seriously give a foreign company the keys with a 50% government subsidy! Or hey engage performance contractors to install an alternate solar system. Yes we have lost a fridge, a washing machine, and a pool pump due to BPL in the last 18 months- absolute BS in the www.** .BS! Persons will become fed up and leave the country! Swallow your pride and fix it BEFORE October!

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Dawes 1 year, 2 months ago

Just bring in the foreigners, its obvious we can't run this.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 2 months ago

Why did you vote for a Minnis-led FNM government? The root of our problem is none other than Minnis himself....he's so comprised and conflicted that the tail is now wagging the dog.

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Dawes 1 year, 2 months ago

Because i hoped he would be different. He isn't. We had power cuts and load shedding every year even before Minnis which is why i said we can't run it.

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proudloudandfnm 1 year, 2 months ago

Um the PLP didn't do squat about BEC other than bring in some foreign company to suck up millions of our dollars for absolutely nothing in return. BEC is hardly Minnis' fault. And I cannot stand Minnis. Why you got me defending that man????

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Craig 1 year, 2 months ago

Why do we bring politics into everything? BPL's problems are 45 years in the making. The Minnis gov isn't the cause of the problems, but they certainly aren't helping, in fact they are making things worst. The problems are simply gross obscene incompetance and corruption.

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observer2 1 year, 2 months ago

Can anyone tell me how many "major generators" BEC has? Say if they have 4 generators that would mean 75% of our generating capacity is off line.

The CEO at BEC has zero consumer skills. He has no shame, if he did he would resign....in fact the entire BEC Board should resign. I guess they like the $40,000 director fees for doing zero. The boy from Lyford Cay has made zero difference. Might as well had given that $40,000 to my boy in Bain Town that could use the money.

Also whats up with Agrekko? Can't find much about their Florida office which looks like an unoccupied warehouse when you Google them. Why no statements from them?

Also whats up with Shell? If they are in charge of the new generators why are they so silent. Whats the latest with the Netherlands based investigation into their multi billion dollar Nigerian corruption scandal? Don't seem like much of any foreign corrupt practices act or regulations on that side of the ocean. Probably explains why we have to always go so far away to get anything done while Florida Power and Light produces the cheapest and most reliable electricity next door. Anyone ask them in Miami what we should do? I guess not.

Also whats up with the new $650 million bond slush fund being raised by crooked Wall Street and fronted by a Bahamian SPV to bury decades of BEC losses, incompetent run pension funds, over priced polluting Bunker C oil purchased from you know who with a sweetheart deal and massive oil leak at Clifton into the water table and ocean.

We better get on our knees and pray there is no hurricanes this year. The electrical grid with it poor engineering layout and non maintained overhead power lines is the next disaster. This time the lights will go off for good. Maybe then they will stop sending out these outrageous bills.

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DDK 1 year, 2 months ago

Bunch of corrupt incompetents. The longer we have idiots in charge the longer the suffering will continue. They do not give a flying fig about the loss of equipment, the discomfort, the danger or the inconvenience to their customers. The inefficiency and corruption is so deeply entrenched it appears there is no stopping the downward spiral of the corporation. Salaries keep being paid to the PM, The Minister of Works, the useless Board, the corrupt union leaders and hundreds of incompetent, lax employees. More stupid retirement "packages" are dished out every few years. Millions of tax payers' dollars are constantly thrown out the window on one lame-brained scheme after another. Must not forget to mention the trio of unsolved fire mysteries. We need a miracle to save us from BEC.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 2 months ago

Why are Nassauvians not out on the streets protesting like in Puerto Rico or Hong Kong or US cities????? .......... Nothing is going to change with BPL until three things happen in Nassau on a huge scale ........ 1. Customers go solar 2. Boycott paying BPL 3. March nonstop on Minnis dem ............... It is beyond ridiculous at this point ....... Minnis and Bannister are out to lunch.

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Bahamianbychoice 1 year, 2 months ago

The country is in crisis. Heastie/Rollins pushed out the competent engineers! Multiple fires, wasted tax payer money and a country in an energy crisis. Enough! Top management and Board need replacing. Now we see why those previous Directors that were fired were fighting so hard against Heastie/Rollins/Bannister.

#BringBackTheEngineers #AlstonandDavis

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Craig 1 year, 2 months ago

Are you saying that BPL had competency prior to Heastie and Rollins? Surely you jest. Anyone with sufficient knowledge of the generation, transmission and distribution plant prior to those two would surely beg to differ. The mess we are in is 40 plus years in the making. I blame the successive decision makers, politicians like Bannister and Miller before him. These politicians have no clue what it takes to make a power company successful. There is nothing in their background to suggest otherwise. As a result, critical decisions, like selecting the board and the top management and making strategic choices are deeply flawed. As a result we the consumers have to pay the price. The cost of electricity is obscenely high and reliability is practically non-existent. Then there are the power quality issues, it is horrible. This is evident from all the damaged electronics, appliances and air-conditioning equipment consumers have to endure. To the Powers that Be, PLEASE, PLEASE I BEG OF YOU, GET OUT OF THE ELECTRICAL POWER BUSINESS. BPL AND THOSE WHO RUN AND OPERATE THE COMPANY, PAST AND PRESENT, HAD THEIR CHANCE BUT FAILED MISERABLY. PLEASE PUT IT IN THE HANDS OF EXPERTS AND INTRODUCE COMPETITION!!!

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yeahyasee 1 year, 2 months ago

“We would like to assure our customers that we are vigorously pursuing every available course of action to address these obstacles, in particular the rate reduction bond process, which will allow BPL to access a much-needed capital infusion at this critical time in our ongoing development.

“We take this moment to look forward to the completion of the 132-megawatt power plant at Station A before the end of the year. The ability of the new station to provide base load generation will allow us to address some of the issues mentioned earlier, and will help BPL provide stable, reliable electricity to our customers in a safe and more affordable manner.”

So we have to wait until the end of the year (Everyone knows the end of the year really means March/May 2020) to get some relief?

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Craig 1 year, 2 months ago

There's a lot riding on this new power plant. They are portraying it as the end of all their problems. Yeah right. These problems are 40 years in the making. Unless these new generators can perform magic, their problems will continue.

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Bahamianbychoice 1 year, 2 months ago

What I am suggesting Is to move the corruption aside inclusive of those that are desperately trying to be involved in the bigger energy deal. This is the worst leadership in the company’s history under Heastie and Rollins. How many fires in the last year and the country is in a full on power crisis at the cost of the Bahamian taxpayer. It has never been this bad. At least if previous staff was consulted we may be able to stabilize. Remember Heastie I believed was fired by Grand Bahama Power..it is my understanding he has very limited generation experience..which has now been confirmed. Rollins has none. These are the two leading us down the rabbit hole! #BringBackTheEngineers

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ThisIsOurs 1 year, 2 months ago

I think all of the trouble started when the new chairman came in and started using fancy words like "generation assets" and "capacity building". Can they just speak English?

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