In the wake of extensive power outages were extensive impacts to businesses across the island, including the island’s number one industry, leaving business owners and residents concerned for the upcoming ‘busy season.’
On Friday, February 17 a pump for the cooling system at Bahamas Power and Light’s (BPL) Wilson City Power Station failed, and without a backup available plunged the island into days of load shedding.
Following an initial repair and restoration of power early Tuesday, February 20, there was another power failure Friday, February 23, which was restored by early Saturday morning causing an already weary people additional frustration.
Rental and Resorts on Elbow Cay tried to move visitors around to any place that had a backup generator, while trying to update guests about the power schedule.
Don Cash of Elbow Cay Properties said that the property management company was running close to full. “Of all the properties about half have a generator,” he said. “Many are threatening to leave.”
He noted that in the midst of the power crisis the island also experienced a shortage of diesel, causing further stress on managers and guests.
Another property management company noted that they “had to refund hundreds of dollars to unhappy guests, we are hearing complaints that they may not return. We no longer have any additional properties to move anyone to, and people are getting very upset.”
“It’s a terrible situation and I blame the short-sightedness of BPL for this. Preventative maintenance and planning for a worst-case scenario should always be part of any well-run business,” they added.
Leisure Lee and Treasure Cay also face similar issues with trying to appease disgruntled visitors; however, some understandably left early demanding refunds.
Molly McIntosh from the Bluff House in Green Turtle Cay said “We have lost a few of guests, and we are lucky that we have understanding guests and that my staff are going way out of their way to show our concern and apologize and give away some free drinks and food.”
She said they are keeping them updated as best they can “with notices posted and by searching them out and letting them know what we know.”
Mrs. McIntosh said that communication could be better, while understand circumstances can change during repairs, but added “couldn’t they just not have a person assigned to give the resorts and communities a quick update.”
She said that the resort was sold out for about four days as well as the marina being very busy “so this has hurt us and Abaco and The Bahamas a lot.”
“It is very hard and expensive to run a business in the Out Islands anyway, and we are so disappointed that this has happened and always seems to happen whenever we have good business, such as the 4th of July,” she said.
“Abaco will not survive the summer if we have these types of blackouts and brownouts and loss of service. Already many people have left and thousands of dollars in goods and hours of employment have been lost.”
Another property manager in Green Turtle Cay noted the frustration they and their guests, who had traveled from South Africa and from the United Kingdom, felt and added that “I can’t even update them and be confident it’s the truth.”
Restaurants and Bars across the island experienced loss as well with some needing to close for several days losing potential revenue.
One restaurant in Hope Town noted that they had to close all weekend and lost over $600 refrigerated groceries.
A restaurant in Marsh Harbour said that “this power outage has caused me hundreds of dollars this week, caused me to completely close on Saturday and was opened only half-day today.”
She said things like this “hurts a thriving small business, like mine, especially as Abaco is already seasonal island as it is.
Some Doctors and Dentists were also forced to close and cancel appointments, while other stores and shops across the island were either able to manage with back-up power, or were forced to reduce time or close where there was no power available.
Other utility companies were affected by power as Cable Bahamas reported failures of backup power supplies in numerous neighborhoods as they were not able to adequately recharge during the limited time the power was on.
Bahamas Telecommunication Company also had customer complaints of land line outages and issues during the course of the power outage; however, it is unknown if these outages and limited services were due to BPL’s outage or not.
Water and Sewerage (WSC) Reported that they were able to keep most of the well fields and water supply going; however, were challenged due to failures of some backup generators.
Abaco Manager of WSC Anthony Bostwick noted that they had to implement and manage “cut backs” to “gain adequate storage for max distribution once appropriate levels are achieved,” in certain areas of the island. He said that WSC was able to temporarily address issues as they awaited parts to repair the backup generators.
Social media was flooded with disappointment and upset and ultimately concerns that if Abaco is already experiencing power issues in February, the islands peak months could well be a disaster if BPL cannot sort out the various issues that have plagued residents for years.