North Andros demands ‘answers’ over BPL woe

By Fay Simmons

Tribune Business Reporter


North Andros residents and business owners yesterday protested over their energy woes and the frequent power outages suffered since a fire destroyed Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) power plant last month.

Lisa Sweeting, owner of 20 restaurant and Snack Supplies, said her grocery store is operating on generator power most of the week to ensure inventory remains fresh. She added that the costs of frequently replenishing the generator’s fuel have significantly impacted her business.

She said: “Right now, I’m operating the gas generator and that is costly. I have to fill that probably three or four times a week. I just went yesterday, now this afternoon. We have to call the truck back so they can fill it up again. I have a wash house that is run on the generator also, and I have to fill the generator to operate that because, even though I might say we close because of the electricity, people still made the trip to come and I don’t want to turn them away.”

Ms Sweeting said she is aware BPL is having some difficulties restoring normal service in North Andros, but maintained that business owners and residents should be updated on its progress so that they can plan accordingly.

She added: “We just need some answers. We just need help. Even if a representative would come out and speak to us about what’s going on so that we can understand. But no one is saying anything about what’s going on. They need to come out and let the people know help is on the way, they’re working on this or we are waiting on that or what went wrong. But we don’t know anything.”

BPL released a statement yesterday to inform Andros residents that technicians have been dispatched to the island to address the issues customers have been experiencing since the fire.

“BPL advises its customers in North and Central Andros that a team from New Providence is on the island to address supply challenges in both North Andros and Central Andros. The company has experienced intermittent challenges in North Andros stemming from last month’s fire that destroyed the North Andros power station,” it said.

“Containerised units that are a part of BPL’s generation fleet, as well as new units, were shipped in to provide immediate relief. Since that time, there have been minor challenges resulting in periods of supply interruption for the company’s North Andros customers.”

The statement added that efforts to improve service in North Andros are scheduled, and that over the next 18 months power generation will be “leaner, greener and more reliable”. “As recently as Tuesday, August 8, 2023, technicians from New Providence were flown in to address and resolve supply issues. Although electricity was fully restored Tuesday evening, further operations are scheduled to improve the service reliability of the units in North Andros,” BPL advised.

“While the company will continue to address immediate concerns and improve service reliability, it also continues to forge ahead with its plan to fully upgrade Andros’ energy network with leaner, greener and more reliable generation within the next year and a half. BPL sincerely apologises to its customers in Andros as it experiences challenges with the island’s power grid.”

Leonardo Lightbourne, MP for North Andros and the Berry Islands, noted the demonstration by residents and said staff at BPL have been working “assiduously” to resolve the electrical woes. He said: “Kindly be advised that I am aware of the demonstration that took place this morning regarding the interruption in electricity service over the last few days.

“Further, please note that Bahamas Power & Light (BPL) workers have been working assiduously since the fire on July 5, 2023, that totally destroyed the power plant in North Andros. The workers were able to get the generators fully up and running with minor load shedding.”

Mr Lightbourne said residents must understand that a major power generation source was lost in the fire, and that BPL employees should be praised for their efforts under “challenging conditions”.

He added: “While I understand the valid concerns of the residents and the business owners due to the interruptions and the unprecedented temperatures we are experiencing, I want to reassure them that BPL workers are doing their best to fully restore the electricity in the shortest time.

“We must consider that we have lost a power plant during the fire. The BPL staff in North Andros are to be commended for the time and effort they have been giving since day one while they are working under some challenging conditions.”

Mr Lightbourne said energy concerns are a priority, and that he will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders to find a resolution. He also encouraged residents to not make their energy woes a “political matter”.

He added: “Finally, to the residents of North Andros, this matter is being treated with the highest level of urgency and it will continue to be addressed as such. Also, we remain in dialogue with all stakeholders as we try our best to bring resolve to this vexing load shedding in North Andros. Please do not allow individuals with other agendas to make this a political matter because it affects all of us and goes beyond the political boundary lines.”


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