By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light (BPL) carried out another load shedding exercise on Friday that left customers in the eastern area of New Providence without power for almost two hours.
A statement published on the company’s Facebook page advised the public that an engine problem at the Blue Hills Power Station had forced the company to suspend its services in a number of areas.
Areas affected by outages included: Fort Charlotte, West Bay Street, Western Medical, Fox Hill Road, Prince Charles East, Spanse Investment, Williams Lane and Bernard Road.
In an interview with The Tribune, Quincy Parker, BPL’s director of public relations, said that load shedding is a result of “unforeseen circumstance".
When asked if BPL can warn customers about load shedding beforehand, Mr Parker said that is something being discussed but there are some security concerns.
He said: “Even if possible since load shedding is a response to unforeseen circumstances, it’s not practical to think that you can really predict when or where it’s going to happen.
“On those few occasions when we have some indication that is maybe necessary or required, we are considering publishing some kind of schedule but again there are safety and security concerns, so those discussions are not very advanced at this level because BPL is not at this point (can’t do) something like that.”
When asked if customers can expect load shedding over the weekend, Mr Parker said it’s not possible at this point for anyone to say “yay or nay” to whether there will be any power outages.
“BPL is working incredibly hard to return as much of its generation to service as quickly as possible in order to save the need to shed any loads,” Mr Parker said.
In a further statement on Facebook, the company said: "The load shedding of the last week is due to the reality that BPL has, at present, insufficient generation available to meet the demand on the system. Demand has begun to increase toward the summer peak as is customary at this time of year. We acknowledge the inconvenience and frustration this causes and assure all that we are committed to improving our ability to prevent load shedding, and ensure better customer service when we are forced to employ that tool."
The load shedding comes less than a month after BPL executive Patrick Rollins said the company would do its best to minimise its occurrence.
When asked about Mr Rollins’ comments regarding this summer being the last for load shedding, Mr Parker said BPL stands by the executive chairman’s promise.
He said: “We are excited about returning Clifton Pier to a base load power station. We are convinced that the high energy output, high fuel efficiency Wartsilla engine that will be the foundation of the new station A will be adequate to the task of ensuring that BPL is able to provide all the generations needed to allow for us to keep that promise.
“On top of the new generations we will be returning those that are down now for maintenance or repairs to service as early of the week of May 20th and so we will have more than enough generation capacity to make sure New Providence does not suffer unnecessary load shedding or unnecessary power outages due to generation short falls."
In a press statement on Wednesday, Mr Parker explained the load shedding, which began on May 10, is due to the “reality” that the company currently has “insufficient generation” to meet the demand on its system.
However, he added the anticipated return of a generating unit to service the week of May 20 is expected to help mitigate the issue.
Mr Parker’s remarks came as a number of companies across the country bemoaned the impact days of power outages have had on their ability to serve customers and conduct business.
The company has suffered from reduced generation capacity after two large generating assets at the Clifton Pier Power Station were “rendered inoperable” in 2018.