By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
A foreign expert who will be contracted by Bahamas Power and Light to gauge its electrical service system for potential instabilities will arrive in the country next month, according to BPL chairwoman Darnell Osborne.
She said the timeline for this analysis and its cost will be contingent on where the investigation takes the specialist.
In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mrs Osborne said the move was shifted to an immediate focus following Sunday’s massive system failure, which BPL said was caused by “inclement weather”.
BPL’s CEO Whitney Heastie told The Nassau Guardian on Monday the company was unable to find a local specialist, and therefore, considered it best to contract a foreign specialist.
He also described the planned assessment as a detailed overview of BPL’s system to find the “most vulnerable” segments based on several case-by-case tests.
Further clarifying the move yesterday, Mrs Osborne said: “This was in the making prior to Sunday’s incident but since another outage has occurred we have focused attention on bringing the person on the ground as soon as possible.”
She added: “The person is scheduled to be on the ground beginning of June. The system evaluation is in direct relation to the outage and the time and cost is contingent on where their investigation takes them to get to the root cause.”
When asked about any budget or time restraints, she said: “We need to get to the root cause of the problem in order to fix it. We need a permanent fix once and for all. This has been years in the making and patching along the way but we need to get root cause analysis.”
BPL has been plagued with legacy failures in its generation system. That in addition to major issues with its transmission and distortion system.
In a separate interview with The Tribune this week, Mr Heastie said plans were also being finalised to “systematically improve” both areas.
Of generation, Mr Heastie said BPL has, in recent years, ensured that all the islands it provides services to were operating with sufficient generation.
He said Bimini was the latest island to be brought “up to par” with its shortfall in this area.
Mr Heastie said the only drawback that could exist, would come in instances where poor weather adversely affect plants - similarly to what occurred Sunday.
“An analysis of our system shows we have sufficient generation on all four of the islands we operate in, but if a problem happens, it will be in spots where generation is affected by weather,” he said.
“Pray to God we don’t have any lightning,” he added. “When you get the rain with all that lightning, that’s when you have the problem. Our substations will produce the power, but the transmission could be shutdown. Obviously lightning strikes, if they hit lines, it cripples the system.
“That’s our worry.”
Typically, as the country moves into the summer months, weather patterns alternate between severe heat and heavy rains.
In both instances, BPL has, throughout the years, shown an inability to maintain electrical service throughout.
In January, Works Minister Desmond Bannister suggested BPL was on pace to deliver its best summer on record.
Mr Bannister made the claims during his response to concerns raised by Official Opposition Leader Philip “Brave” Davis, who had requested the government show any newly implemented strategies being used by the utility provider.
The Carmichael MP seemingly viewed the request as a swipe at appointments of Mr Heastie and COO Christina Alston, and moved to defend the efforts and expertise of both appointments.