I’m tired, as I’m sure many of you are, at laying blame regarding the fiasco that is Abaco’s electricity situation. Abaconians have had decades of practice in that regard. Besides, there is plenty of blame to go around. We are hungry for solutions.
When the power cut abruptly on February 17 we all assumed it was just another in a frequent, unending line of power interruptions. This in itself is an indictment. It is a condemnation of the system, top to bottom, that we come to expect regular outages – often at our most economically vulnerable times.
How many summers have we chased away tourists who come to spend their hard-earned money? The answer, so far, is all of them. How many businesses must continue to grovel and apologize to customers for something completely out of their control? They pay their exorbitant light bills and in return they get darkness and angry clients. How many appliances have you lost? And how many times have you been unable to get someone from BPL on the phone leaving you sitting in darkness with dinner ruined on the electric burner?
Despite knowing the problems Abaco has faced for years, BPL/BEC/Government seemingly refuse to resolve them. I am honestly at a loss. I am not an engineer or electrician, but with the results we have it seems no one at the power company is either.
We have a $120 million dollar power plant at Wilson City less than a decade old. It has four generators – we usually only need two at any given time. How did a cooling pump failure catch them with their pants down so spectacularly? On that note, how do any of these many power outages happen so frequently? Is maintenance optional? Is maintaining inventory a foreign concept? Are we practicing for air raids?
I don’t shame them because of one bad hiccup and I don’t gripe because BEC is just some random business that underwhelms me with their service. They are a major utility with which we have no alternative and from whose failures we have no reprieve. The bungling of their mandate is consistent and is a roadblock to progress. It goes beyond a miserable night here or there. It is a way of life we have sadly come to expect.
I always make sure when I write out BEC (which is often) to credit the linemen who work through the nights to repair downed power poles and get us up and running after hurricanes. This is not any individual’s fault. But there is a problem. Solving it requires more than a bandage.
BPL has a new CEO and COO who have less than twenty weeks on the job (though they have many years in the industry). So they are temporarily absolved, at least in my book. And they need all the thoughts and prayers this nation can muster if they are to wrangle this dragon.
I just hope they can do it soon. And I hope you are not reading this by candlelight.