Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis.
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis expressed deep unhappiness with the state of power generation in New Providence yesterday, calling it unacceptable.
He revealed that Bahamas Power & Light officials briefed Cabinet on Tuesday about its short-term plan to provide relief to residents and businesses. That plan includes returning to service an additional nine megawatts of power from BPL’s Aggreko units, he said.
He added: “A six-man team of specialists from Philadelphia Gear is here on New Providence. The team has started working with the intention of returning an additional 20 megawatts of power to service at the Baillou Hills Power Plant. For context, BPL’s peak demand is 250 megawatts and is currently experiencing a 40 megawatt shortfall. BPL will notify the public as additional generation capacity is operational.”
His statement continued: “Over the last several months, BPL has had to engage in prolonged periods of load shedding due to a decaying generation fleet that has presented challenges to power generation in New Providence for decades. I am deeply unhappy that our families are suffering. I fully understand that Bahamians and residents want clear and immediate action. I want to assure you that the government is committed to doing whatever is necessary to alleviate this problem, including further additional measures. The frustration and inconvenience experienced by Bahamians and residents, in homes and businesses throughout New Providence is simply unacceptable. We are doing all we can to fix the problem long-term, and to ensure that Bahamians and residents receive the consistent power supply they deserve.”
For his part, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest acknowledged to reporters that the electricity woes have been a “very significant inconvenience at the least and is a significant problem that is affecting people’s lives both in terms of the business, the economy and personal comfort.”
He said of BPL’s short-term plan: “I’m not an engineer so I can’t say where they are technically in terms of it, but based on my layman’s ear I’m satisfied that they certainly are addressing the issue and they have a plan for a speedy resolution.”
Last week Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis knocked Dr Minnis for not publicly addressing the problems at BPL, calling his reaction “stone silence.”
At the same time, BPL’s CEO Whitney Heastie could not say over the weekend when BPL will stop its load shedding exercises, describing the company as “on a cliff” with no wiggle room. Currently, the Finnish technology group Wartsilla is working to install a 132-megawatt engine power plant at Clifton for $95 million. That plant is expected to be operational in December.
BPL began daily load shedding on June 19, but frequent power cuts were an issue even before that time. Load shedding persisted yesterday in many communities in New Providence in three-hour rotations.