By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
THE power generation situation at Bahamas Power and Light has gone beyond crisis mode, having bloomed into a full-fledged “catastrophe”, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union president Paul Maynard said yesterday.
As he railed against the company’s executive leadership, the outspoken union chief shed light on the extent of the existing equipment failure at various BPL facilities, telling The Tribune “there is no relief in sight”.
According to Mr Maynard, one of the Baillou Hills Power Plant’s engines is only producing nine megawatts of power when it should be producing 20.
Additionally the rental Aggreko units are only producing 105 megawatts of 120 megawatts needed. As for the Clifton Pier Power Plant, Mr Maynard said its struggling to “do what it could do”.
These equipment failures are compounded by speculation over a delayed timeline for the completion of the new $95m power plant. Mr Maynard claimed a more realistic date would be March 2020.
Insiders agree, revealing there has been some complications with creating the correct infrastructure for the engines to operate.
“GD 10 is supposed to come back tonight. It’s supposed to but I doubt it will be back until Saturday or Sunday and (engine) number seven, the guys are working around the clock to try and get the gear box fixed, but this is a technical issue - you have to be careful with what you doing. I doubt that will be back until Monday and if anything else goes wrong, you have another problem,” Mr Maynard said in an interview yesterday with The Tribune.
“Pray to God that November is a mild November otherwise we will be load shedding until then. You can’t make this up.
“This has gone beyond a crisis. This is an all out catastrophe.”
He continued: “We have feeders tripping that we didn’t even know was tripping because we load shedding. Nobody knows what’s happening.
“The lights out all over the place at Fort Charlotte and in tourist areas. God forbid we have incident where something happen to one of these tourists.
“This is a greater problem than they are letting on. The minister (of works) and the prime minister needs to step and say they aren’t putting up with this no more.”
Asked if BPL officials had been forthcoming with the timeline for the completion of the $95m power plant, he said: “No. Hell no. From what I see back there, I said March 2020 or even June for that matter.”
BPL officials did not respond to inquiries from The Tribune up to press time yesterday.
This comes as load shedding persisted yesterday morning and into last night in three-hour intervals.
Dozens of residential areas from east to west New Providence were affected.
On Wednesday, this newspaper reported that three BPL generators that provide nearly 70 megawatts of power to thousands of households are offline, with one asset needing at least one month for repairs.
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 this week 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. Officials will hold a press conference on Sunday about the issue.