By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) yesterday said its new 132 megawatts (MW) of generation capacity "are go" after meeting its December 15 deadline to link them to the grid.
Dr Donovan Moxey, BPL's chairman, said the Wartsila engines "have been putting power to the grid all week long" as the state-owned utility seeks to bring relief to its long-suffering customers following a summer marked by constant load shedding and power blackouts.
BPL invested $95M in seven Wartsila 50DF tri-fuel engines, each of which has been commissioned over the past few weeks and tested at full load on New Providence's power grid. Engines will be connected to the grid over the coming weeks in a phased approach to space out maintenance cycles.
The completion of Clifton Pier's "Station A" provides BPL and its customers with 132 MW of more efficient, lower-cost energy that will become the new baseload generation for New Providence.
Dr Donovan Moxey said in a statement: "The advent of the new power plant at Station A is exciting for us at BPL. It marks the first milestone on our strategic turnaround plan for our national utility, and it means we are close to bringing an end to load-shedding.
"We are excited to usher in a new age of reliable energy production at BPL, and the first phase of lowering our fuel costs and bringing Bahamians the reliable, affordable and safe power they deserve."
Whitney Heastie, BPL's chief executive, added: "This is a critical accomplishment for us. We have been working miracles to keep a severely debilitated generation fleet online, plagued by old machines that have - for various reasons - not been maintained as well as they could have been, and also by a growing demand for electricity that has taxed our ability to supply.
"Now, with the replacement power out of Clifton Pier, we can shift our baseload generation - that is, the first power to the grid and the foundation of our power supply - to Station A, which means we're burning cheaper, more efficient fuel with more reliable engines first. Our customers will see the difference."
The decision to build a new power plant at Station A was taken by the BPL board of directors following the September 2018 fire that took its then-best generation assets offline. Working with Shell North America, BPL selected Wartsila to build the plant at Station A, and the process of clearing out the decommissioned engines began in November 2018.
The major benefits of Station A are intended to be increased reliability, a lower cost of electricity, increased energy and price security, a substantial improvement in the power generation reliability in New Providence.