By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
CUSTOMERS in New Providence can expect load shedding to continue through next week, Bahamas Power and Light announced yesterday.
In a statement, BPL communications director Quincy Parker explained the load shedding, which began May 10, is due to the “reality” that the company currently has “insufficient generation” to meet the demand on its system.
However, he added the anticipated return of a generating unit to service the week of May 20 is expected to help mitigate the issue.
Mr Parker’s remarks came as a number of companies across the country bemoaned the impact days of power outages have had on their ability to serve customers and conduct business.
“(BPL) wishes to confirm that load shedding has been conducted in New Providence since May 10,” the statement reads. “However, BPL expects to return an engine to service in the week of May 20, which will significantly bolster our generation capacity and stability.
“The load shedding of the last week is due to the reality that BPL has, at present, insufficient generation available to meet the demand on the system. Demand has begun to increase toward the summer peak as is customary at this time of year.”
The company acknowledged the “inconvenience and frustration” this has caused and said it is committed to “improving (its) ability to prevent load shedding”.
BPL reiterated two of its larger generating assets at the Clifton Pier Power Station were “rendered inoperable” in 2018, thus reducing the company’s available generation capacity.
“Added to that, routine scheduled maintenance was required on additional generators in advance of the summer peak. The last of these works remains in progress and is expected to be concluded by the end of the month.
“Additionally, unplanned and unexpected challenges developed over the past week at both the Clifton and Blue Hills Power Stations affecting energy supply. These issues together resulted in the present generation shortfall necessitating load shedding and regretfully impacting our customers.
“The first of the impacted generating units is expected to be returned to service the during the week commencing May 20. The return of this unit will go a long way toward improving the present situation. Unfortunately, the generation shortfall is expected to persist until this occurs.
“As previously indicated, the ongoing routine maintenance activities will be concluded in June, further boosting the available generation capacity.
“BPL has also sourced 25 megawatts (MW) of additional rental generation for its Blue Hills Power Station. These units are currently being installed and will begin to come online at the end of the month.
“Lastly, BPL has engaged additional technical services to first expedite the diagnosis and repair of the remaining generators and then to provide additional operational and maintenance assistance to supplement our teams. This assistance is already on the ground and has begun the necessary assessments.”
On Monday night, BPL reported on its Facebook page that parts of the Abaco were without service after the feeder to the cays tripped. Areas affected included Hope Town, Man-O-War and Guana Cay.
More outages were reported across the Abacos throughout Tuesday and yesterday.
Diane Sweeting, administrative assistant of Hope Town Harbour Lodge, an Abaco resort, said the resort keeps notes of whenever there is a power failure and listed to The Tribune all the times power went off from May 8 to yesterday.
“We have to run our generators quite a bit and it did inconvenience some of the guests,” Ms Sweeting said.
“We weren’t very happy; we were glad they were able to fix it but the load shedding wasn’t appreciated…But I do understand sometimes they have to do maintenance and things.
“Usually as soon as it goes off within five minutes we have our generator on... And the guests will come and of course when the power goes off you usually lose Wi-Fi. If they’re in the middle of something they do complain.”
Regarding the outages, Arnold Hall, owner of Lighthouse Liquors in Hope Town, told The Tribune: “Just get used to it, that’s the only criticism I have. You get used to it after a while, learn to deal with it. For the most part, lately the power has been fine, it’s just recently…Other than that I don’t have a problem with (BPL). When I call them, they respond.”
He added he purchased a new generator yesterday.
Shop proprietors in Nassau expressed similar complaints.
Pam Burnside, manager and owner of Doongalik Art Studio on Village Road, said the outages make it very difficult for businesses to operate.
She added it affects everything from the doorbell to phones to credit card machines — meaning customers without cash cannot be serviced if power is out.
“It is very annoying when it does go out because we do not have a generator,” Ms Burnside said.
“It’s very difficult, you know without computers and things like that, very difficult to operate.
“Something as simple as getting the doorbell to ring, which is a very simple thing—you don’t know who’s outside unless they ring the doorbell. Luckily, I have a handheld bell that is handmade,” she continued, noting she has to put a sign up telling customers to ring the bell.
“And of course, you have no credit card (service) or anything like that…so all of those things really impact the way you run or cannot run your business.”
The recent load shedding exercises came less than a month after BPL executive Patrick Rollins said the company would do its best to minimise its occurrence.
Meanwhile, the company has recently announced the appointment of Ian Pratt as acting chief operating officer. This came a little over a month after former COO Christina Alston seemingly abruptly left the company less than two years after taking the position.