Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis toured the Clifton Pier and Baillou Hills power stations on Sunday.
(BIS Photos/Yontalay Bowe)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis toured Bahamas Power & Light’s plants on Sunday in a private visit and declared unreliable power in New Providence a “crisis” for Bahamian families.
Media was not notified of the visit in advance and no media was present other than government information services. The first notification to the media was in the form of a late-night press release, and there was no opportunity to put questions to Dr Minnis about BPL’s problems.
Other top BPL and government officials have notably avoided describing BPL’s generation struggles as a crisis in recent weeks.
“To the energy community, this may not fit the definition of crisis but for Bahamian families that can’t cook breakfast, fill their gas tanks, buy groceries or even charge a cell phone, this is a crisis,” he said in a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister.
“I understand the pain, I understand your anger and I understand the deep frustration of Bahamians throughout New Providence.”
According to the press statement, Dr Minnis was briefed by BPL CEO Whitney Heastie and Works Minister Desmond Bannister on the “progress of being returned to full service.”
“The prime minister strongly re-emphasised that BPL is doing all it can to fix the problems long-term, and is currently aggressively executing a plan to mitigate the shortfall in generation to ensure relief is provided to residents as soon as possible,” the statement said. “Prime Minister Minnis reiterated that his government is committed to doing whatever is necessary to alleviate this problem. BPL is working to address the serious load shedding issues and has started to release a daily fact sheet in its ongoing effort to better communicate the extent of the problems and the work being carried out to return the system to normal. The daily report details the day’s outcomes and provides updates on anticipated issues and progress for the following day.”
BPL’s daily fact sheet yesterday reported a 32 megawatt shortfall with average power outages lasting two hours and 47 minutes.
However, some residents complained of suffering multiple three-hour long power cuts.
A 30 megawatt shortage and three hour power outages are expected today, according to the fact sheet.
Last week Dr Minnis said a six-man team of specialists from Philadelphia Gear has come to the island and has been working on returning an additional 20 megawatts of power to service at the Baillou Hills Power Plant.
BPL indicated that two units at Baillou Hill, representing 44 megawatts of unavailable power, are being worked on.
“The local and international teams continued work overnight on the first unit at BHPS rated for 23 megawatts,” BPL said. “Work on alignment of components of this unit, which suffered a failure of an internal mechanical component, was advanced overnight, with the final case of alignment expected to be completed sometime (Sunday). This would allow coping to commence, which refers to the assembly of the different components of the unit. Once coupling is completed then work can begin on testing and recommissioning.”
“The second unit at BHPS rated at 21 megawatts is significantly closer to being back to service. The local, certified diesel specialist leading the repair work is due to complete his work (Sunday), focusing on sealing the replacement engine, which will allow the replacement engine to be placed in the appropriate configuration with the unit.”
The first and second BHPS units are on track to be back in operation on August 30 and September 6 respectively, BPL said.