By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light expects New Providence load shedding to continue until rental generators are installed at its Blue Hills Station and offline equipment is brought back on stream.
This means long power cuts may continue up to June 30, when BPL expects its additional rental generators to be completely installed.
New Providence residents have suffered through almost daily load shedding since June 19. This despite BPL chairman Donovan Moxey proclaiming earlier this year that officials did not expect load shedding this summer.
The outages, which in some cases extended beyond the two-hour rotation interval promised by BPL, tortured thousands of households, leading many consumers to take to social media to air their grievances with the process. Many called for BPL to release a load shedding schedule, so people could plan their days accordingly.
Yesterday afternoon, BPL posted a statement to its Facebook page explaining the “temporary loss of two of its generating assets over the weekend exacerbated the load shedding” on New Providence, “extending the times and multiplying the number of outages experienced across the island”.
“One of the lost assets was returned to service by Sunday afternoon, with work proceeding to bring the other asset back online as quickly as possible,” BPL’s statement noted.
On Friday, BPL said its Aggreko rental units are due in at the Blue Hills Power Station by June 30, adding these rental units will “alleviate the demand challenges BPL is facing”.
BPL began load shedding earlier this month as a result of problems experienced with its generating assets at the Blue Hills Power Station, the company said.
Due to increasing temperatures, customer demand on the network in New Providence spiked over the preceding days and the loss of generation coupled with the increase in demand resulted in a shortfall of generation and the need for load shedding, BPL said.
“Our teams at the Blue Hills Station are working feverishly to resolve the concern with the generators and return them to service as soon as possible to offset in the short term the current shortfall,” acting Chief Operations Officer Ian Pratt said.
“Further, BPL wishes to advise that the installation of additional rental generation at the Blue Hills Station is nearing completion. It is expected that this additional power will be available by the week ending June 30, 2019. This additional rental will bolster BPL’s available generation and put us in a better position to meet the increasing customer demand during this summer period.”
The generation shortfall plus the spike in demand means that BPL expects to be load shedding almost daily, in two hour rotations, until the rental generators are installed and the equipment that is out of commission for repair or maintenance is brought back into service.
Attempts by The Tribune over the weekend to establish a schedule for outages yielded no results, with officials at various levels in the company referring this daily’s questions and requests to someone else.
Up to press time yesterday, reported outages continued to hit indiscriminately.
As the company struggled to keep the island’s lights on, BPL officials posted several updates to its Facebook page.
However, the updates only addressed the location of outages and all of the notices seem to come after the outage was reported to have occurred.
With each notice, customers grew increasingly more exasperated.
One consumer posted to BPL’s Facebook page: “Can we get a pre-update? Something that can let us know when an area will be off? I’m sure Bahamians would love to be conveniently out if they could.”
Another customer wrote: “If the load shedding (is a planned) event, there is no reason why the public can’t get a schedule. This leads me to believe that BPL is not being truthful and these power cuts are not as they say. Out of all the utility (companies) BPL is the worst.”
When contacted yesterday for an accurate outage schedule, BPL’s Director of Communications Quincy Parker said that Friday’s statement addressed the utility’s plans moving forward.
Back in April, Mr Moxey told reporters: “We don’t expect any load shedding.”
He added: “There are several generation assets that we’re looking to make sure that we maintain properly (and) appropriately so that we will be ready for the summer. We are also looking at bringing in some additional rental generation to cover the needs in the summer. So from our perspective, we’re doing everything that we can in order to prepare for the load that we’re required to deliver during the summer months.”
Yesterday BPL noted it generates, transports and distributes electricity to over 101,000 customers around the country. BPL said while it is mandated to ensure there is sufficient supply to meet demand, electricity demand “is not consistent because of peak periods when demand is higher and continuous growth in the number of customers requiring electricity services.”
BPL added, “Load shedding is done as a controlled option to respond to unplanned events to protect the electricity power system from a total blackout.”