By KHRISNA RUSSELL
Deputy Chief Reporter
ILLEGAL dumping within close proximity to a Bahamas Power and Light transmission pole was yesterday blamed for an island-wide blackout, which impacted New Providence on Tuesday.
It caused volt lines to clash into each other thereby imposing a major fault on the transmission network.
Works Minister Desmond Bannister made the revelations yesterday in the House of Assembly, as he insisted the incident had nothing to with BPL nor its historic generation and transmission issues.
The incident could have very easily resulted in the illegal dumper being tragically “fried” Mr Bannister said, had he gone any closer to the electricity pole.
“At approximately 11.45am, New Providence experienced an island-wide outage that was not caused by our historic generation or transmission challenges. Specifically it was caused by someone who appears to have been engaged in illegal dumping,” the Carmichael MP told the House yesterday.
“Power in New Providence is facilitated by 132,000 volt lines between Clifton and Blue Hills Power Stations. These lines are located along easements that facilitate access.
“It is clear that yesterday a heavy-duty vehicle that was engaged in illegal dumping within the easement came too close to one of the transmission poles. The impact caused the 132,000 volt lines to clash into each other thereby imposing a major fault on the transmission network. The result was that generation at both stations tripped offline, thereby causing a total island wide outage.”
He continued: “Initial assessments on the network in preparation to restart the generators very quickly identified the Clifton Pier – Blue Hills line as the circuit which initiated the outage event. A follow up patrol by our line crews to ascertain the cause of the trouble located the damaged pole and dumped debris within our wayleaves, just east of Coral Harbour Road. The remainder of the line was checked and confirmed to be healthy by the team.”
Mr Bannister said once the impacted circuit was isolated, operations teams began the process of restoring the reminder of the network.
The first generator was put back online at the Blue Hills Power Station within 20 minutes of the outage, energising the network and the first set of customers were restored shortly thereafter, he said.
After two hours, 85 percent of customers had been restored. However the minister said at this point there was a delay in the restoration process while teams worked to restore the final generator and the remaining customers.
He said the final generator was restored at 4.03pm and all impacted by the island-wide outage were restored at 5pm.
A further outage was experienced in the Soldier Road area as a primary substation had to be isolated to rectify a high voltage cable termination.
He urged the general public against the practice of illegal dumping.
“While we were all inconvenienced yesterday, we are thankful that power was restored as quickly as possible. However this incident could have ended very tragically for the truck driver had this vehicle impacted that pole just inches from the actual point of impact and accordingly I am obliged to warn persons not to engage (in) this type of illegal conduct as they could be taking their lives into their hands,” Mr Bannister said yesterday.
This comes as Acting Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest said on Tuesday generators were on the way to Nassau from Grand Bahama to assist with the ongoing power generation situation.
Mr Turnquest said a fire in May at BPL’s Bimini facility that damaged two engines exacerbated challenges.
When this happened he said two engines which were being utilised in the capital were sent to Bimini to assist with issues there.
BPL has been grappling with generation issues this summer and began load shedding on June 19. Officials have said the situation will not likely improve until this fall.