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BEFORE YOU DIG!

History of Electricity in the Bahamas

Our Primary Mission and Objective

"Is not only to provide a safe, reliable and cost effective source of power throughout our archipelago, but also to be a strong partner in the business of nation building, enabling the Government to attract even more discerning investors to our country."

The advent of electricity in the Bahamas dates back to July 18, 1907 when the Electric Light Act was passed mainly to provide electricity to Nassau and its suburbs. As a result, in 1909, the first power generating unit - a direct-current (d.c.) coal-fired unit, was installed on Bay Street.

The Bahamas Electricity Corporation (B.E.C.) was established many years later on October 1, 1956. Tremendous growth has taken place at the Corporation since its inception. Those who took part in the passing of the Electricity Act of 1956 would appreciate the profound changes that have occurred at the Corporation in only half a century of existence. The Corporation, which is the nation's main provider of electricity in the Country except for Grand Bahama, now boasts state-of-the-art power stations, some 96,000 customers, progressive leadership, cost containment, reliable and environmentally sound generation, and a committed work force. The Corporation currently operates and maintains power systems in 25 locations throughout the Bahamas archipelago.

B.E.C.'s corporate office (then known as the 'Electric Light Plant') was formally located in the Vendue House on Bay Street. This building was constructed in 1769 for the use of traders selling goods (including slaves) at public auctions. In 1986, B.E.C. relocated its employees to its new Head Office on Baillou Hill & Tucker Roads. The Corporation has just recently completed Phase 1 of the Big Pond Redevelopment Programme which provides the Field Operations Staff with an ultra modern office complex. The complex also houses the Corporation's Training Department.

Windsor Field & Oakes Field Sites
During the early 1950's, power generating operations occurred at the Windsor Field (current site of the Nassau International Airport) and at Oakes Field (west of the Clarence A. Bain Building on Moss Road) and work started on the upgrading of the power distribution systems to 11 kV and 33 kV. Since that time, the expansion in New Providence has been phenomenal.

Big Pond Power Station
The construction of a new building for the Big Pond Station began in 1950 and was completed in October, 1951, facilitating further expansion of the station's generating capacity. On December 31, 1978, the Big Pond Power Station was closed after almost 40 years of distinguished service.

The reinforcement of the transmission system and major substations in The New Providence Expansion Project Phase 3 continues to contribute towards improved system reliability and reduced system losses.

Blue Hills Power Station (B.H.P.S.)
Construction at the Blue Hills Power Station site began in 1969, and in 1970, three gas turbine generators were commissioned (GT's 1, 2 & 3). Between 1970 and 1992, the major portion of electrical power generated by B.E.C. in New Providence was from the Blue Hills Power Station. Two gas turbine generator units were commissioned in 1971 and 1973 respectively (GT's 4 & 5). A waste heat recovery steam plant (TA 6) was commissioned in 1988, using the exhaust gases of GT 5. This was changed over to GT 7 after it was commissioned in 1988. GT 8 was commissioned in June, 1990. In 1999, a 20 MW GE frame 5 gas turbine unit was purchased and installed at BHPS to replace gas turbine unit GT-1 which had reached the end of its economic life. GT 8 was followed by GT's 9 & 10 in 1997 and 1998 respectively. In 2004, a project was commenced to install a new waste heat recovery steam plant (T/A 11) with a steam turbine that has twice the capacity as that replacing (T/A 6). The T/A 11 unit will utilize the waste heat from the exhaust gases of the units that replaced GT 4 and GT 8. These replacement units, GT 4R and GT 8R, which were installed in 2002 and 2003 respectively, are the H25 gas turbines manufactured by Hitachi.The Clifton Pier Power Station now also boasts a 23-megawatt ultra modern gas turbine unit (GT 8R) and a 132,000 volts power transmission line from Clifton Pier to Blue Hills.

Clifton Pier Power Station (C.P.P.S.)
The Clifton Pier Power Station was constructed in 1958. The power station, which is situated at the southwestern tip of New Providence, was commissioned in 1960 and it led to the closure of stations at Windsor Field, Oakes Field and Cable Beach. The station's original power generating equipment was comprised of two steam boilers and turbo-alternator units rated at 6.1 MW each. Prior to the 60's, all power generating equipment in the Corporation consisted of medium speed diesel generators. In 1963, a slow speed diesel generator (D/A 3) rated at 6.1 MW was installed in a specifically constructed power house which lies adjacent to the main power station building. At the time of its installation, it was the first diesel engine of its type, which was originally designed for marine propulsion duty to be used in a land-based power station for power generation. This eight-cylinder, single-acting, two stroke, turbo-charged diesel engine, was successfully converted for stationary use as a power generating plant. A third steam driven turbo-alternator unit with a power rating of 2.5 MW was commissioned in the main Power Station Building in 1966. The steam station, consisting of the three turbo-alternators and D/A 3, was de-commissioned in 1993 shortly after the completion of the New Providence Power Expansion Phase I. As a result of the significant increases in the price of fuel during the 1970's and the continuing steady increase in the demand for electricity in New Providence, the Corporation began the construction of the Clifton Pier Power Extension in 1980. The extension to the Clifton Pier Power Station was officially opened on September 14, 1983. In 1992, a new power plant complex, costing a total of $108 million, was built at Clifton Pier. This project included the installation of two new 26.6 Megawatt slow-speed diesel engines, the construction of a second 132-volt transmission line and reinforcement of the distribution system. The Clifton Pier Power Station also houses four (4) 10 MW slow speed diesel engine generators. A 30 MW slow speed diesel unit was added (D/A 11) at Clifton Pier in 1999 and a further 30 MW slow speed diesel engine generator (D/A 12) was commissioned in 2004. Presently, the total power generating capacity at the Clifton Pier Power Station complex is 101 MW and annually the station generates a very large percent of the total amount of electrical energy consumed in New Providence.

Soldier Road Site
Continued growth of demand during the 1960's led to construction of a diesel station at Soldier Road in 1966/1967. Failure of the third and fourth new units installed at Soldier Road in 1969 resulted in the installation of a number of temporary diesel generators at Big Pond and Soldier Road. The temporary diesel generators were de-commissioned between 1969 and 1973 when the first five gas turbines were installed at the Blue Hills Power Station.

Family Island Development
In the Family Islands, the growing presence of B.E.C. is evidenced by the extent to which our responsibilities have expanded to cover provision of electricity to most of the inhabited Islands. Our expansion into the Family Islands started with our acquisition of the power systems in San Salvador, North Andros, North Bimini and Great Exuma in 1973. The following year, operations were further extended to include Central Andros and Cooper's Town (Abaco), and in 1975, Great Harbour Cay. As a result of rapid development, B.E.C. is now responsible for supplying not only New Providence and Paradise Island, but also most of the Family Islands with power. In the decade of the 1990's, B.E.C. embarked on a second Family Island thrust, costing $50 million, designed to electrify rural areas and to expand the electrical infrastructure on other Islands in response to economic growth. Ragged Island, Black Point in the Exuma Cays, Mayaguana, and Southern Long Island were electrified for the first time. Between 1994 and 1996 additional generators were installed at the Power Station at San Salvador, (Marsh Harbour) Abaco, Bimini, and (Rock Sound and Hatchet Bay) Eleuthera. In addition, improvements were made to the infrastructure in all Island service areas. Accomplishments since 2000 include construction of a new 8.8 MW Power Station in Exuma, upgrading of generation and transmission plants in Abaco, including the commencement of replacement of old submarine cables connecting the Cays, installation of a new circuit to supply the new development in Winding Bay, new generators and distribution circuit at Emerald Bay in Exuma, replacement of diesel engine generators at Harbour Island and Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera, and plant upgrade in Bimini and Harbour Island.

Over the years, the Corporation has won several awards. In the Annual Safety Competition sponsored by the American Public Power Association (APPA) for companies with at least 2,000,000 man hours of risk exposure, B.E.C. placed third, a very commendable achievement. B.E.C. has also won, among many other awards, the coveted 100 Day Challenge Award and the National Service Award in the Bahamas.



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