Friday, May 19, 2017
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Deputy Chief Reporter
WITH the hot summer months approaching leading to concern over the reliability of electricity in the country, Bahamas Power and Light (BPL) Ltd yesterday expressed “confidence” in its readiness to take on the peak period with its higher power generation capability.
BPL said while it expected the needed power generation this summer to peak at 255 megawatts, its current generation availability is over 345mw. This is 90mw higher than the demand expected this summer.
In addition, the electricity provider said transmission cables between Blue Hills Power Station and the Big Pond Sub-Station have been replaced and upgraded to improve the capacity and reliability of the transmission system.
Pointing to the period from June through to September last year, in which BPL experienced challenges due to low generation availability and reliability, the company said it wanted to ensure the Bahamians would not suffer from the same issues this summer.
“Capital projects and maintenance activities during the last 12 months placed a great deal of emphasis on making certain BPL is able to meet the expected summer peak from both a generation and distribution standpoint,” the company said in a press statement. “BPL is pleased to confirm high confidence with its summer readiness programme to deliver consistent and reliable electricity during the summer period.
“Between June-September 2016, BPL experienced challenges due to low generation availability and reliability, therefore resulting in periods where the system demand exceeded the available supply.
“BPL wanted to ensure that Bahamians would not experience similar levels of outages as last year and upgraded and strengthened its generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure with additional rental units and an improved repair and maintenance programme.
“BPL also took into account the need for additional capacity to service the Baha Mar resort and other new loads as well as the previously recorded system demand in its projections.
“While the expected peak this summer is estimated at 255mw, BPL advises that its current generation availability is over 345mw, 90mw higher than the projected summer peak demand. Furthermore, transmission cables between the Blue Hills Power Station and Big Pond Sub-station have been replaced and upgraded to improve the capacity and reliability of the transmission system.
“As with any similar provider, the system’s network may be impacted by third party incidents such as adverse weather conditions or traffic accidents. Should these incidents occur, supply will now be restored to customers in a much shorter period of time,” the press statement continued.
Last June, BPL said it was investigating to determine what caused an island wide outage in the capital. At the time BPL attributed the power cut to a cable fault due to a generation issue, which caused the blackout that lasted in some parts of New Providence for up to seven hours.
The outage caused several government offices to close for the day, including the passport office and the Road Traffic Department and also caused some banks to temporally suspend their services.
There were also reports that several planes were stuck on the tarmac unable to take off and planes were also circling the Lynden Pindling International Airport unable to land because of power issues at the Airport Control Tower.
Several other similar incidents followed in the following months.
BPL’s capabilities were also put to the test in the days following Hurricane Joaquin. It took several weeks for the company to restore power to all residents and BPL sourced some of the work needed to the Caribbean Association of Electric Utilities, who sent teams to the country. Ultimately BPL was heavily criticised over the pace of restoration to customers.