By NEIL HARTNELL
and YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporters
The Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive yesterday said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it “even more critical” that Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) provides stable energy supply.
Speaking in the wake of yesterday’s island-wide outage on New Providence, Jeffrey Beckles said the increased number of persons working remotely or studying at home meant reliable electricity had become more important than ever.
“With the backdrop we’re currently in, power is even more important,” he told Tribune Business. “It’s even more critical we have this. Everything - work, school and entertainment - is at home.”
Meanwhile, senior private executives said they will be unable to deal with a repeat of last summer’s rolling blackouts by BPL given the COVID-19 restrictions imposed on much of the Bahamian economy.
Brent Burrows, general manager of CBS Bahamas (Commonwealth Building Supplies), said: “After BPL has spent up all of that money on those generators, I really hope not. I don’t know what the situation is but I hope it is something simple and not a reflection of what will happen in the summer.”
“Our country really wouldn’t be able to handle it after all of this COVID-19. Our power has not come back yet and we are still on generator. I hope this is something simple and not anything we are going to be seeing all summer.”
BPL, in its official statement, said the outage happened as it tried to “isolate the circuit” at the Skyline substation that feeds the old Gladstone Road facility. It was doing this so that it could tie in the new substation at Gladstone and Fire Trail Roads, but a “short” occurred in BPL’s systems as it attempted to do this, plunging New Providence into a blackout lasting at least several hours.
Dwayne Higgs, WHIM Automotive’s general manager, said: “We haven’t really noticed it because we have a generator here. It was a big investment, so that was a big plus for us. But business here hasn’t had any interruption.
“We have a 72 KW (kilowatt) generator and we got it before we added on and renovated. We are comfortable with what we have, and it can run the building. I saw the power dip off and after about 15 seconds our generator came on.”
Mr Higgs added that he “hopes” this is not a foreshadowing of the summer to come for BPL, and added: “I am not sure what is causing it now. We have seemed to have a pretty good run without any power issues and the cost for fuel is pretty low, so I could not tell you what is going on.”