By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive yesterday said there is “not much else to say” over the Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) crisis other than “hope resolution is in sight”.
Jeffrey Beckles told Tribune Business that a solution to BPL’s now-daily load shedding and blackouts on New Providence needed to be “found sooner rather than later” given the disruption to both the private sector and Bahamian citizens.
While crediting the government-owned monopoly for seeking to minimise load shedding in business areas during the day, in a bid to cause as little interruption to commerce as possible, Mr Beckles said many in the private sector - especially those without generators - remained “unnerved” in the absence of a solution to BPL’s generation woes.
“Generally speaking there’s still a bit of concern,” the Chamber chief told this newspaper. “For the most part they’ve been trying to do this load shedding in the evening so they mitigate against the vast majority of businesses being impacted, but they’re still being affected.
“Unless there’s a reasonable solution found to this, which I’m sure they’re working on, the mood is going to continue to be cautious and unnerved. It’s something we’re going to have to live through until it’s resolved.
“We all hope for a more speedy resolution, and give them credit for working on it, but there’s not much else we can say. People have already expressed their frustration from a business and consumer standpoint. What more can we say other than hope a resolution is in sight. We’ll all be beneficiaries in that.”
All signs, though, indicate that BPL’s generation woes will continue throughout the summer months into the fall and, possibly, winter 2019 until its $95m investment in 132 Mega Watts (MW) of new Warstila turbines comes online.
But even that has encountered delays after BPL had to repour the concrete floor at the Clifton Pier power plant station that will house the new generation units, which will ultimately be rolled into the new multi-fuel power plant to be financed, constructed and operated by Shell North America.
Meanwhile, Mr Beckles said the private sector’s attitude was focused more on achieving better energy solutions than having suffered damaged confidence as a result of the frequent power outages.
“I don’t think it’s one of confidence; it’s more finding a solution and one where business owners hope there is a reasonable conclusion,” he added. “We’re hopeful a solution is found sooner rather than later.
“It’s good to know they’re trying to do as much load shedding in the evening as they can. Not everyone is free from outages, but at least consideration is being given to keeping the bus9ness community on at a time when they do most of their business.”
Mr Beckles conceded that the downside was the power outages experienced by New Providence’s residential areas at the same time. “What can we do?’ he reiterated. “We can only hope that a solution is in sight and can be sooner rather than later.
“Obviously everybody would love to see us make progress in energy generation and consistency in delivery whether for businesses or consumers. I don’t think anyone wants to see us in this state much longer.”