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News : Bahamas Information Services Updates Last Updated: Aug 12, 2019 - 2:37:09 PM

BPL CEO and CHAIR on state of generation in New Providence
Aug 12, 2019 - 2:45:28 PM

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CEO Press Statement on Generation

Good Afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press

First we wish to recognize that there exists a perception that our performance as it relates to communication has been not been what it should be. That is one aspect of the current situation that we must take 100 percent responsibility for.

However, while we may not have communicated the reality of the situation well, communication is not what got us to where we are. 

To a large extent the complexities that led us to where we are have also contributed to our inability to both relieve our consumers and communicate definitive answers as they relate to load shedding.

We will attempt to give more clarity this afternoon.

Secondly, we do not intend to assign blame as that is now irrelevant. The blame game does not offer relief nor does it lend to solving the problems we are faced with.  It is important however to come to grips with how we got to where we are.

It must be noted that the Board appointed in 2017 and this current Board have had a collective stint of just over 24 months. Those two Boards met the following set of circumstances in place:

•    A decaying generation fleet, with equipment up to 60 years old.
•    A generation fleet where parts could no longer be procured or could only be procured exclusively from manufacturers that have not been very responsive to our requests for help.
•    A generation fleet where preventative maintenance was not the order of the day.
•    A generation fleet that relied on costly fuel.
A generation fleet that, if action were not taken quickly, could in fact lead us to where we are today or worse.

Neither the time frame between those two boards, nor the circumstances that may have led to the change in Boards, had an impact on that history.

We had hoped that with the help of the additional rental units from Aggreko, we would be in a position to prevent load shedding for the summer. While we were certainly cognizant of the tightrope we were walking, due to the pressure being placed on the remaining plant, we did not anticipate this level of systems failure and even if we had, we would not have had the resources to mitigate the situation as this level of accelerated decay could not be anticipated.

So here is where we are:

Our peak demand is 250MW.We have a total of 210MW available today, which includes the following:

•    105 MW in Aggreko rental capacity,
•    35 MW at Clifton Pier, and
•    70 MW from Blue Hills.

This equates to 210MW or 40MW short of what is required, hence the load shedding. We are working feverishly on returning two generators at Blue Hill Power Station that will make up this 40MW difference. However, we cannot guarantee that other units will not fail and return us to load shedding as we have no excess capacity. As we get deeper into the Fall, the demand will drop off as will the need for load shedding. 
It is important to understand that BPL employees have been extremely supportive and working diligently during this entire ordeal. It would have been equally appreciated if the same level of support was received from engine manufacturers who have not been so responsive to our repeated requests for help.

We are extremely aware that our consumers’ patience has long run out and that confidence in what we are telling you is low.  But it is the truth.

It is an ugly truth that the inheritors of the truth must tell and that no amount of editorials, political bombast, and armchair quarterbacking can change.
While our existing generation fleet has been in decay, load in New Providence has consistently grown with many new mega complexes. We are building a new 132MW plant, as seen today, but regretfully the acceleration of the decay has created a gap and resulted in the circumstances we are all experiencing.

The men and women at BPL are working tirelessly to reduce that gap, but only so much can be done with the existing infrastructure, where no parts are available and even the manufacturers have offered little to assist.  A lot of mistakes were made in the past and we are now the ones that must carry the load. So be it.

We do not expect the inconvenienced public to be sympathetic.  All we can do is work diligently to resolve the issue once and for all.  We wish the public to be aware that every waking hour is being spent on ensuring that the plan for the long term solution is being adhered to, while at the same time we are attempting to reduce the pain that is being felt in the short term.

This team is confident that those that follow us – our consumers, the management and staff of BPL – will never have to endure that which we have had to endure for the past 40 plus years.

CHAIR Press Statement on Generation

Ladies and gentlemen of the press, good afternoon.

The Board of Directors of Bahamas Power and Light Company Limited is cognizant of the challenges faced by Bahamians due to prolonged load shedding and lingering problems with power generation. We know the problems it is causing for homes, and for businesses, for industry, and for families. I want to again apologize to our customers and The Bahamian people for not providing the level of service that should be expected from a national electrical utility. We intend to do all we can as quickly as possible to resolve the issues that inhibit our ability to provide the quality of service all of our customers deserve.

While Mr. Heastie focused on generation and other critical operational issues, a different perspective on the challenges facing BPL is that as a company, we have been disadvantaged by decades of nonalignment of strategic vision for the company and the needs of our growing customer base. As more housing developments were being constructed, more resorts and other foreign direct investments were courted and constructed, as the economy and the population has continued to grow, there should have been concurrent investments in increasing generation capacity to sufficient levels that would ensure the company’s ability to meet growing demand and sufficient headroom to allow for redundancy. That nonalignment is equally at play in our challenges, and perhaps more significant than the current shortfall in generation, in our view.

The facts are plain: decisions that would have obviated the problems we face today were not made, and so we are here, challenged to fix these problems once and for all. But as a board, we are committed to doing exactly that, and not making excuses or placing blame.

The mandate given to this board by the Government of The Bahamas is to fix the issues that plague our national electricity company once and for all. We are not here to kick the can down the road, or to implement temporary or Band-Aid solutions. We are here to address the structural problems facing BPL head on, and to stay focused until those problems are resolved, and we can present The Bahamian people with an electrical utility that delivers on its mandate to provide safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to all its customers. The Board is providing diligent oversight of a strategic plan that we believe will achieve this stated goal.

Despite the reality we currently face, we are not without optimism. We believe that our current strategic plan with a phased approach for execution, will allow us to achieved measured and objective improvements in our operations, address challenges that have been plaguing the company for years, and the successful completion of each phase of our plan will allow BPL to re-build trust with our customers.

The completion of the 132 Megawatt power plant at Station A before the end of this year is the first phase of our Generation turnaround strategy.  This Station A power plant is intended to be incorporated into the power generation facilities that will be developed and operated by Shell North America.  In fact, immediately after the fire in Station C that consumed about 65MW of BPL’s generation assets, Shell North America was directly involved in the selection of Wartsila to build this power plant with the understanding that these engines would become part of the larger 220MW generation facility that they will own and operate. Any suggestion or assertion that Shell North America has not been involved in this process is factually incorrect.  The Station A power plant is the largest single plant ever built in the history of the company, it will allow us the ability to address some of the generation issues mentioned earlier, as well as allow BPL to better prepare to serve its customers in summer 2020 and beyond.

The completion of a second Gas-To-Power Plant by Shell North America will mark the completion of the second phase of our Generation turnaround strategy, which will see another 90+ megawatts of high-efficiency, low-emissions generation pumping power to the grid by mid-2021.

Phase three of the turnaround for generation is the completion of the Terminal Facility for LNG Regasification, which is expected to be fully operational by December 2021. With the completion of this facility, the Shell power plant as well as BPL’s remaining generation assets will have access to LNG, and our customers will immediately see the benefits of a cleaner, less expensive, and more environmentally sustainable fuel source as the foundation of our energy supply in New Providence.
In addition to traditional power generation facilities, we are excited about our push into renewables. Over the next four years we will be releasing renewable energy generation RFPs for New Providence and all the Family Islands. The first of these RFPs have already been issued, inviting qualified organizations to submit proposals as Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to develop, finance, build, own, and operate a solar PV and energy storage plants, or hybrid power plants on Bimini, Andros, Eleuthera, and Inagua. BPL intends to leverage what we learn from these initial projects to ensure that our implementation of renewable energy is done in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, with the ultimate goal of providing maximum benefits to our customers.

Our strategic push into renewables will have a marquis kickoff with work set to begin on implementing the new solar energy solution on Ragged Island. As we are all aware the Government of the Bahamas made a commitment to make Ragged Island a green island, and BPL is doing its part in making this happen. Our team visited Ragged Island this past Friday to view sites for the new solar plant installation on that island. We are excited about this first solar and battery storage solution implemented by BPL, which is paving the way for the company in the renewables arena, particularly with regard to solar generation. BPL intends to do everything we can to deliver solar power to Ragged Island by December of 2019.

We have a plan to fix BPL: we have laid out the broad strokes of the plan, and we encourage our consumers to hold us accountable. This is our commitment to The Bahamian people, and we will stand by it.

I would like to say clearly: we, the Board of Directors, have absolute confidence in the executive team led by Mr. Whitney Heastie to get the job done. We support Mr. Heastie’s operational plan, and we stand by his team’s ability to bring that plan to fruition.

We are committed, as a board, to provide strategic oversight of the direction in which BPL is heading, and we are excited and open to collaborate with all stakeholders on the new strategic direction for the company. We firmly believe in this phased approach to resolving our Generation challenges once and for all.

Today we are discussing how we plan to resolve our generation issues, however our strategic plan is broader than generation alone; it also addresses stabilizing our finances, upgrading our neglected Transmission and Distribution network, significantly improving the quality of our customer service, building additional capacity within our workforce via structured training and certification programs, and above all  keeping safety as our first priority both in the workplace and in the services we deliver to our customers. We strongly believe that successful execution of our strategic plan will allow BPL to provide reliable, cost effective electricity that will be viewed as a game-changer with respect to its long term positive effect on the growth and development of the Bahamian economy.

So once again, as a Board we have a mandate: fix the problems at BPL once and for all. We are committed to doing this. We have confidence in the BPL team, and are committed to doing all that we can to ensure that they have all the resources required to execute this plan. We, the Board, will hold them accountable for success, even as we are held accountable by our stakeholders – the public who own this utility.

Thank you.

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