By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light chairman Donovan Moxey has blamed this month’s adverse weather conditions for the power provider’s inability to receive rental generators earlier, which rendered it unable to fulfil electricity demands over the weekend when two of its units went offline.
Although this was an “anomaly”, according to Mr Moxey, he apologised for the “unacceptable” widespread load shedding, which grossly inconvenienced thousands of customers.
Speaking to reporters yesterday, the chairman explained that BPL took measures to avoid a situation like the one encountered at the weekend. He said the company did anticipate elevated summer demand and had planned to have rental generators in place by June 18. However rainy weather created a delay in their delivery.
As a result, BPL now anticipates that the rental Aggreko units will be fully installed by tomorrow and Friday of this week at a cost of just under $2m a month. As for when the situation is expected to get better, Mr Moxey said realistically not until fall 2019 when the new power plant is expected to be fully functional. Officials said load shedding would continue this week in three to four hour intervals.
Despite this, BPL has no plans to relax disconnections and the company continued yesterday to urge consumers to pay their bills or work out payment plans.
“We don’t ever go into a year of planning saying we will have load shedding. We will never attempt that because our hope and push on this is on positive,” Mr Moxey said during a press conference at BPL’s Baillou Hill Road headquarters yesterday.
“So what we did earlier this year is, we looked at our maintenance schedule and we did the best job that we can given the assets available to conduct the maintenance.
“Another thing that we did in anticipation of the summer is recognise that we needed additional rental generation so we then went through an appropriate RFP process. We engaged the winner of that process, which was Aggreko, to put in the rental generation for this summer.”
He continued: “Ideally we wanted that to be available for us by June 18. There was significant rain that hampered the civil works and so that’s why we are delayed. The intention was to have those online by last week and that didn’t happen for us and so again we want to as a power company make sure the power is on 24/7.
“Load shedding activities especially in an island configuration are things that you have to recognise they will happen so we do our best to plan for them, but our intention is to have the power on 24/7, 365 for our customers at all times and when we do run into issues where load shedding is required, we do that in order to protect the network so that we can restore power to full capacity if we can.
“We have brought in an additional 25 megawatts of rental generation - that’s on top of the 90 megawatts of rental generation that we had in place prior to that.”
Asked about the cost of these rentals, Mr Moxey said it was “significant”.
BPL Public Relations Director Quincy Parker later told reporters rentals for 90 megawatts costs $1.37m per month and the additional 25 megawatts carry a price tag of $475,000 per month. However the threat of load shedding will continue all week and into the fall season when BPL’s new power plant is installed.
Mr Moxey also said: “These rental generation assets will relieve the pressure on our system immediately and together with machines that are being prepared and brought back into service, will give us some breathing room as far as the load is concerned.
“It must be said, however, that even with these generators the possibility of load shedding remains until we have completed the new 132- megawatt power plant under construction in station A at the Clifton Pier power station.”
BPL’s Chief Operating Officer Ian Pratt explained the rationale behind BPL’s need to load shed.
He said as far as was possible, there was an attempt to evenly distribute the activity across areas.
“Last week, however, additional units at the Blue Hills plant developed problems which resulted in them coming offline and setting up the present generation shortfall. Over the weekend, one unit at Clifton Pier also tripped offline due to a mechanical defect. This was repaired and that unit has been returned to service.
“Two units at the Blue Hills power station tripped offline. One of those fed into our steam turbine which takes the heat energy from the exhaust system of one of those generators to produce power.”
He said when that engine went offline the steam turbine did the same resulting in the situation being exacerbated.
“Work also continues at Blue Hills in order to turn the two units that were impacted over the weekend to full output capacity. Both of those units are already back online, but there are some additional work to be done in order to get them up to full power. Further, once those machines are back up to full power, we will be able to then restore it to power service our steam turbine units given us additional capacity,” Mr Pratt said.