Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) Chief Executive Officer Dave McGregor revealed that it was his goal to implement a renewable energy source in Grand Bahama; however, Hurricane Dorian’s landfall back in September 2019, delayed the process.
In his presentation at the Rotary Club of Freeport weekly luncheon meeting at Ruby Swiss Restaurant on Thursday, January 23, McGregor told Rotarians that the Category 5 storm left behind massive damage, particularly in East Grand Bahama.
Noting that as GBPC continues its restoration efforts in East GB, McGregor admitted that it is still a work in progress and the company has spent a special effort in putting street lightings on and beyond the Casaurina Bridge area to start.
McGregor also revealed that the GBPC’s equipment stood up well to the storm’s winds; however, the floodwater brought major issues to the company’s system and several vehicles were lost from the fleet.
“The Peel Street plant was completely submerged underwater,” he said.
Fortunately, the power station was an insured loss. “We’re currently working with insurers.”
GBPC’s Director of Customer Operations Nikita Mullings added that the company officials decided to update its playbook to improve storm preparations in the near future, following the Dorian experience.
Dorian was a completely different experience for the GBPC, therefore, despite thoroughly practicing items in the playbook with live scenarios, company executives were still underprepared for what happened during the storm.
Mullings noted that they were, initially, confident upon Dorian’s arrival and continued pre-storm operations, such as meeting with employees and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
She admitted that a special storm map showed about 70 percent of the island being underwater, but they still hoped that would not be the result.
“The storm came, employees locked down at home,” she said.
Some employees locked down at various plants on the island, which was customary so that they would be able to respond to customers.
Shortly after locking down, heads of department were receiving calls from employees who needed to be rescued during the storm, she recalled.
Mullings furthered that the GBPC workers eventually lost communication with ZNS and could only keep in contact with McGregor, who was off the island at the time and of course, unable to get to the island.
According to Mullings, after the storm the GBPC’s main focus was checking on employees to see if and how they survived the storm. “Some employees came with just the clothes on their backs.”
She added that the first meeting after the storm prompted the staff to join hands and pray, which is something they never did before.
Initially, they intended on sorting themselves out and going home, but employees wanted to get to work as soon as possible, she said. “They were able to assess the damage in various areas on the island.
“It was a team effort; we pulled together and quickly formulated (a plan) to get the island back on,” she said.
After five days they were able to restore power in the western end of the island.
The GBPC has 19,000 customers across Grand Bahama.