By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
BAHAMAS Power and Light has spent just over $1.6m on equipment and materials as teams work to fully restore electricity in Abaco and its cays following Hurricane Dorian.
According to Works Minister Desmond Bannister Thursday, there was substantive damage to BPL's infrastructure in the wake of Dorian, including the loss of 3,000 utility poles.
Despite the damage there, Mr Bannister was optimistic that “Abaco is on its way back”.
He gave the update Thursday afternoon during his contribution to debate on the Disaster Preparedness and Response Amendment Bill 2019.
He said: “BPL has three generating facilities in the Abacos. Wilson City has four engines that generate 12 megawatts each, for a total of 48mw of power. Normally this is twice the amount of power that Abaco needs. This facility suffered only minor damage in the hurricane.
“There is an additional facility in Marsh Harbour, which is ordinarily capable of generating 8mw of power. This facility suffered extensive damage during Dorian. Additionally, BPL lost in excess of 3,000 poles.
“The challenges that are attendant in restoring power on Abaco relate to the complete destruction of the infrastructure in Marsh Harbour, which utilised most of the power load from Wilson City.
“Today Abaco is on its way back. BPL along with members of CARILEC are working together to quickly rebuild Abaco’s infrastructure and restore power in microgrid fashion until BPL is capable of rebuilding its entire network.
“To date, BPL has spent just over $1.6m in equipment and materials.”
He continued: “Today more than 30 linesmen – including BPL and members of CARILEC – are on the ground in Abaco. Those 30 linesmen do not include BPL generation and support teams helping the rebuild effort.”
In South Abaco Mr Bannister said 40 poles were replanted over a 60 mile stretch of land.
“South Abaco really only requires about two megawatts of power, which is insufficient to fire up the Wilson City generators. BPL, therefore, brought in a two megawatts generator from Exuma to service South Abaco. After working for a short period that generator experienced challenges, which impacted the ability to generate power in South Abaco.
“BPL was able to move another generator to the island. Work in the South was completed and power was restored on September 29th, 2019.”
To date, teams are almost at the Marsh Harbour Power Station, which serves as the hub for power distribution throughout Abaco and the Cays.
“While a team was concentrating on the 69kV transmission system, another team has been working in the Spring City community, rebuilding its infrastructure. To date, many poles have been replanted over a two- week period and work should be completed in another week ahead of plans to repower that community.
“BPL currently has a 17-man team in the North working to restore the infrastructure, from Cooper’s Town to Crown Haven, ahead of re-powering.
“The BPL team is accompanied by teams from CARILEC that include a four-man team from British Virgin Islands, a five-man team from Belize; and a five-man team from Antigua. It is anticipated that infrastructural repairs will take two weeks, after which power can be restored. BPL is currently targeting having the North re-powered by Sunday November 3rd, 2019.”
He said the first to have to have 100 percent power was Moore’s Island, just one week after the storm.
Additionally power has been restored to Walkers Cay and 75 percent to Little Grand Cay with 100 percent power restoration anticipated by the end of this week.
In Green Turtle Cay BPL has completed its assessment.
BPL has assembled materials and will mobilise Friday with all material to the island. BPL’s team will be facilitated with a seven man crew from Caribbean Utilities Company Cayman, which will arrive in the Bahamas on Friday to offer their assistance.
BPL anticipates that power can be restored to Green Turtle Cay by mid-November.