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Bpl Is On The Edge Of A Cliff Every Day

BPL CEO Whitney Heastie, right, and chairman Donovan Moxey.                                                                              Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

BPL CEO Whitney Heastie, right, and chairman Donovan Moxey. Photo: Terrel W Carey Sr/Tribune Staff

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

BAHAMAS Power and Light CEO Whitney Heastie said the company sits “on the edge every day” and cannot guarantee there will be no further electricity cuts or when the nightmare will end.

According to the BPL chief yesterday, while BPL’s peak demand is 250 megawatts, there is only a total of 210mw available, creating a 40mw shortfall and no wiggle room.

Crippled by a decaying generation fleet, parts that can no longer be procured and manufacturers that have not responded to BPL’s requests for help, the situation is grim. Mr Heastie said this level of system failure now being experienced is one that could not have been anticipated.

Consumers have called for clear answers as to when the load shedding situation will improve and have questioned what the company will do to soften the blow of lives often disrupted by electricity cuts. However, Mr Heastie said BPL cannot afford any form of compensation, while apologising for the utility provider’s failure to give uninterrupted service.

BPL’s executives held a press conference and walk through of BPL’s Clifton Pier Plant yesterday. “We have three generators that are currently down at the Baillou Hills Power Plant. That’s a total of 60mw and so we do need two of those three generators to be returned to service as I stated we anticipate getting two of them back that will close the shortfall,” Mr Heastie said when The Tribune asked for a timeline for an end to load shedding. “The third one is a little less likely to return because of the failure that that generator has seen.

“The challenge we have is with an aging fleet. Last night over the course of the night we would have had four additional units gone down. There is no guarantee to sit here and guarantee that when those three units go back that another two won’t go down.

“So as long as we are in this situation where we have no wiggle room, no spare capacity, we are sitting on the edge everyday. We cannot guarantee that there will not be any load shedding.”

He continued: “BPL as a power utility is like every other power utility in the world. It’s not like the other utilities that provide service. We bill only what we sell. If the metre is not turning obviously we do not bill. There is pay per use and so we only charge for what is consumed by consumers.

“We do understand that there is an inconvenience factor. We are all experiencing that and what we say is yes we do understand that but let’s be clear BPL is in the hole every month. I think people need to understand that. Let me give you the number so we understand where we are and I think what people have been asking BPL to do is to forgive payment on bills. Our monthly expenditures exceed $40m every month. Thirty million dollars on average is fuel.

“That goes to Shell North America. That’s based on the price of fuel. That’s nobody in The Bahamas getting that money, that goes to Shell North America. Over $8m is spent on paying and running the business everyday. Inclusive of that would be the vendors we are contracted to provide service with. Another $2m is provided for interest on loans.”

“There is no room for BPL to not insist on its customers to pay,” he also said. “The lack of funds in BPL is how we got to where we are today.”

Mr Heastie said the change of two BPL boards did not have any affect on the historic issues that plague the power provider.

He said the company was aware that consumers have now run out of patience. “Our peak demand is 250mw. We have a total of 210mw available today, which includes the following: 105mw in Aggreko rental capacity, 35mw at Clifton Pier, and 70mw from Blue Hills.

“This equates to 210mw or 40mw short of what is required, hence the load shedding. We are working feverishly on returning two generators at Blue Hill Power Station that will make up this 40mw difference. However, we cannot guarantee that other units will not fail and return us to load shedding as we have no excess capacity.

“As we get deeper into the fall, the demand will drop off as will the need for load shedding.

It is important to understand that BPL employees have been extremely supportive and working diligently during this entire ordeal. It would have been equally appreciated if the same level of support was received from engine manufacturers who have not been so responsive to our repeated requests for help.

“We are extremely aware that our consumers’ patience has long run out and that confidence in what we are telling you is low. But it is the truth.

It is an ugly truth that the inheritors of the truth must tell and that no amount of editorials, political bombast, and armchair quarterbacking can change.

“While our existing generation fleet has been in decay, load in New Providence has consistently grown with many new mega complexes. We are building a new 132mw plant, as seen today, but regretfully the acceleration of the decay has created a gap and resulted in the circumstances we are all experiencing,” Mr Heastie said. He added there would be no attempt to blame anyone for the current state of affairs.

For his part BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey apologised but pointed to several things that contributed to the issues. He said: “The board of directors of Bahamas Power and Light is cognizant of the challenges faced by Bahamians due to prolonged load shedding and lingering problems with power generation. We know the problems it is causing for homes, and for businesses, for industry, and for families. I want to again apologise to our customers and the Bahamian people for not providing the level of service that should be expected from a national electrical utility. We intend to do all we can as quickly as possible to resolve the issues that inhibit our ability to provide the quality of service all of our customers deserve.

“While Mr Heastie focused on generation and other critical operational issues, a different perspective on the challenges facing BPL is that as a company, we have been disadvantaged by decades of nonalignment of strategic vision for the company and the needs of our growing customer base.

“As more housing developments were being constructed, more resorts and other foreign direct investments were courted and constructed, as the economy and the population has continued to grow, there should have been concurrent investments in increasing generation capacity to sufficient levels that would ensure the company’s ability to meet growing demand and sufficient headroom to allow for redundancy. That nonalignment is equally at play in our challenges, and perhaps more significant than the current shortfall in generation, in our view.

“The facts are plain: decisions that would have obviated the problems we face today were not made, and so we are here, challenged to fix these problems once and for all. But as a board, we are committed to doing exactly that, and not making excuses or placing blame,” Mr Moxey said.

Comments

yeahyasee 1 month, 1 week ago

Our monthly expenditures exceed $40m every month. Thirty million dollars on average is fuel.

O_O

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

It seems Whitney Heastie and Donovan Moxey are only capable of blaming previous PLP and FNM governments for our national state of emergency caused by BPL's crisis situation. These two clowns say little if anything about what steps are being taken to restore a reliable source of electricity for nation at the earliest possible time. They are political hacks appointed by our PM Minnis who are utterly unable to address the serious issues faced by BPL that have crippled our nation with devastating costly consequences for many of us and our businesses. AND WHERE IS OUR PM MINNIS? IS HE ON A LAVISH VACATION IN ANOTHER COUNTRY? IS HE HIDING? ONE THING IS FOR SURE, HE'S MIA !!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 month, 1 week ago

Anything to do with Shell North America has a lot to do with what ends up in Snake's pockets, whether directly or indirectly. Meanwhile Rome is burning down but Minnis remains nowhere to be found!

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DDK 1 month, 1 week ago

" Mr Heastie said this level of system failure now being experienced is one that could not have been anticipated." He forgot to add: "by an iditot".

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bcitizen 1 month, 1 week ago

BPL has no right charging business a demand surcharge. They have no demand. It is stealing plain and simple. I am shocked no one has taken legal action regarding this charge as of yet. They are admitting they do not have the capacity. So how can you charge a business a demand charge so you have the capacity available when they need it?

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watcher 1 month, 1 week ago

Anyone else now playing BPL Bingo?

Guessing when you dare to cook a meal, or do laundry, or cool down after a hard day's work....wondering if this is the hour of day or night when your unlucky number comes up and you are pitched into darkness and 100+ degree temperature.

To say nothing of wondering when your fridge, tv, computer or light fixtures will be fried, causing yet more financial hardship.

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newcitizen 1 month, 1 week ago

Current here has been frying appliances for years. This is nothing new. Why wouldn't you spend the extra $20 and get a good surge protector for your stuff instead of waiting for it to fry just so you can complain.

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bcitizen 1 month, 1 week ago

The other day every surge protector in my house burnt up one time. 6 x 20 is 120 bucks. Still not cheap!

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Fitmiss 1 month, 1 week ago

I have surge protectors and suppressants. I even had one placed in the main meter box and it was fried. I even rewired my entire house and ran an upgraded wire from the meter box to the circuit breaker and still there were problems. Come to find out, BPL had us wired wrong. They had to go on the pole and remove our wire from where it wasn't supposed to be. I am glad it was solved after numerous appliances frying and my house lighting up like it had a poltergeist.

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Ma comrade Fitmiss, curious why you haven't filed damages claim under your homeowners insurance policy, yes, no ...

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

The lawyers behind pushing for handful African Populaces act likes they are so bent on believing Englishman's owes them slavery relocation monies be best shift focus to BPL who does owes thousands comrades Populaces refund reparations for undelivered and interrupted supply electricity, yes, no .... Its proven win case that even AG Carl Wilshire, will file assume that the learned Judge will assume that what the plaintiffs alleges against BPL, be provable facts .... Can't just make this up ....

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JackArawak 1 month, 1 week ago

you would think the government would have an answer but it's painfully obvious that "they ain't rightly know" . Failing FNM government

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shonkai 1 month, 1 week ago

As usual, doing the math. $2M monthly on interest, while we also rent 105MW (=50%) ?!?!?!?! So what loans were those, if we are currently renting half the capacity, and what cost is that rent? Are we still paying off loans for the purchase of half-crippled generating capacity from way back? Maybe some priority should be given to refinancing or paying off these loans, that way the consumer might see some direct good from it.

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Makes Populaces ponder if such educated BPL team can fail so miserably then judge degree incompetency comrade red shirts political appoints over there running water works, yes, no..... not making up how one set red shirts political appoints be's so much more schooling educated ....

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

The major objective of any business (after making a profit) is to meed the needs of its customers and at the levels they demand. But with BEC/BPL it appears that for some time their capacity to produce power was going in the opposite way of customer demands and the cost of producing power was increasing, despite new fuels, innovations and technology that can make electricity in the Bahamas dirt cheap. So why is this? Why is BPL rental generators producing more energy that its own equipment? and at a higher cost per unit. Is BPL being held hostage to be dependent on older and outdated fossil fuels and by whom?

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Greentea 1 month, 1 week ago

We are not a sovereign country John - anything that says N.A. tells you who the hostage takers are.

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Comrade customers BPL can engage lawyers file class-action law suit financial loss/damage equpiments/spoiled foods and medications covered under their home and business insurance polices, yes, no makes more legal sense than suing Englishman's over forced into colony's slavery ....

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Clamshell 1 month, 1 week ago

I plan to open a candle shop. Should be a millionaire in no time.

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Ma comrade, brilliant idea and sign contract BPL supply and pay bill for supplying electricity customers with free candles, yes, no ...

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Clamshell 1 month, 1 week ago

Nah ... BPL would promise the candles, fail to deliver them, then charge double, plus a “fuel surcharge.”

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TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

Ma comrade ClamShell,here's a juicy no brainier missing puzzle piece. How is it BPL will have actually incurred nearly a half of a billion dollars just on fuels be dirtying up colony's 700 islands, keys and inlets between January 1st, 2019 and December 31st, 2019, yes, no ... how can BPL truthfully look populaces in faces to even begin account nearly half billion dollars spent on fuel when BPL's power generating generators were not even in running condition ... where has all these unused millions gallons fuels disappeared to, or with whom.... I am not just making this wild story up likes did I mention BPL picks their customers pockets out millions dollars - supposedly some kinds fuel surcharges on fuel it doesn't actually use run their electricity power generating, generators ....

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professionalbahamian 1 month, 1 week ago

Ok, So why would you have multiple rental failures ? Just please do advise!! Open the darn books, weekly updates, who decides on strategy? Wasn't there a foreign consultant on high salary and housing allowance for years in NP - where are those reports? Enough crap - call the defense force to monitor the plant please! Send a few officers off for training if needed. Move generators from out islands if needed - if you aren't willing to do that then you must be able to rent more generators NOW for next March onward. Come on! Call in some SOLAR performance based contracting please on a massive scale -wouldnt it solve it - why not- special interests??? Do you have a Better option- NO. A good manager surrounds herself/ himself with people technically smarter than her/him and doesn't let pride get in the way- call Elon Musk- anything but don't expect you can solve it year after year!

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Fitmiss 1 month, 1 week ago

What do you mean by "move generators from the out islands if needed"? What you are now experiencing is something we have experienced in Eleuthera for decades. It has finally gotten better but just this week we have had multiple dips and outages. In fact, read my earlier post pertaining to surge suppressors and how my household items were fried. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is not the solution. Unfortunately I am on the outside looking in and cannot give them suitable advice on what to do. I know that their business model is outdated and not working. I can only suggest upgrade the plant, purchase energy efficient and new equipment, hire trained staff, implement solar panels, even natural gas, but this right now is not working.

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mandela 1 month, 1 week ago

Hey under the FNM this term the electricity has been the best, better than under any previous government, truth or false?

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professionalbahamian 1 month, 1 week ago

Could be wrong but I believe under the last fnm government electricity reliability was at its best. In any case it doesn't matter - what matters is the actual cause, preventing it from happening again, and the long term solution.

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