By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
AS key government facilities were among dozens of areas struck by power cuts yesterday, Bahamas Electrical Workers Union president Paul Maynard said the ongoing situation is at its “worst” as he suggested Bahamians needed to protest against this electricity crisis.
Bahamas Power and Light had little update to give consumers yesterday outside of its Facebook page, which only provided a running list of areas from east to west affected by widespread load shedding.
These included the Bahamas Department of Correctional Services, Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC), Simpson Penn School for Boys, private healthcare facilities, Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre, dozens of residential areas and some small and medium sized businesses.
A Public Hospitals Authority official said computers, printers and light fixtures at SRC sustained damage from power surges.
Power issues also hit Abaco and Bimini.
In an interview yesterday Mr Maynard likened BPL spending almost $2m each month on rental Aggreko generators to putting a bandage on a festering wound.
He said when the generators are returned to service, issues will remain because the same antiquated equipment is in large part still in use.
Earlier this week, BPL executives said the rental units were delayed, but predicted they would be in place by yesterday and the weekend to address its generation shortfall.
This comes as Works Minister Desmond Bannister told The Nassau Guardian on Tuesday that BPL was currently performing better than it had been under the former PLP government.
“He talking fool,” Mr Maynard told The Tribune. “This is the worst it’s ever been and I told him he shouldn’t say that. You can’t take the public for fools.
“Until Bahamians get together and stop this red and yellow and green and say we ain’t taking this bull, we going to Bay Street and when they see 50,000 people downtown, they’ll say they serious now.”
Mr Maynard also noted the BPL CEO Whitney Heastie has been absent throughout this situation.
Asked whether the rentals were a sure way to fix the issues Mr Maynard said: “The point is you will always have this problem because we are operating on ancient equipment, I always say that.
“Those rental generators ain’t gonna fix a goddamn thing. It will remedy the problem yes, but fix it, no.
“Let’s do some math here. They say that you have 130 megawatts coming online whenever. Now when it comes we have 125 of rental engines right now.
“The plan is to send the rental engines back. So now we send them back so if that was 125, when next summer comes you have 130 megawatts but then you still have the same problem because you don’t have additional power. So what’s going to happen? The same thing, you will be load shedding.”
He continued: “What I am telling them is you can do what you want, but tell the public the truth. Until Shell North America gets in here, if they coming, the only thing you have to rely on is this same situation because you sending Aggreko back home because it’s costing too much.”
On Monday, BPL Chairman Donovan Moxey 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.
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 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 to urge consumers to pay their bills or work out payment plans.