Officials of the Grand Bahama Power Company (GBPC) confirmed on Monday that streetlight restoration on the major thoroughfares throughout the island has been completed, while some are near completion post-Hurricane Matthew.
According to Cleopatra Russell, GBPC Corporate Communications, following the tragic death of a contract worker last year, the streetlight and night guard restorations were halted for a period.
During that time all staff were mandated to participate in a number of safety workshops and exercises; however, work has since commenced and all major thoroughfares are now restored.
“We know that about 2,000, give or take, of our streetlights were damaged during the storm. Initially, we would have started an exercise, to aggressively address street lighting and night guard lighting, the end of last year, at which time a contractor fatality forced us to put a stop on that exercise.
“Following that we resumed, in the early part of 2017, with all of our contractors as well as our internal line staff, making a really good push. We have put a substantial dent in night guard lights restoration; with about 70 to 75 percent of those being repaired and about 25 percent of our street lighting repaired, throughout the island,” Russell revealed.
“Our strategy has been to address the street lighting on the major thoroughfares. We know that East Sunrise Highway, the Mall Drive, Midshipman Road and Queens Highway would have been the key areas.
“We would have also made some really good headway with completion on the Garnet Levarity Highway (Fishing Hole Road) and most parts of the Eight Mile Rock area. The Fishing Hole Road was completed over the weekend. Residents who are traversing the streets in that area should have their lighting up,” she added.
“We continue to push east and west; with crews being dispatched daily, working 12 and 14-hour shifts. We are actually taking advantage of the daylight savings time and having the crews work extended hours to put up as much streetlights as we possibly can. We still encourage individuals to call, if there are any issues at all, so that we can address them,” said Russell.
She noted that safety has and continues to be the priority for the GBPC. “A big part of this is that safety continues to be priority for us. We wanted to ensure that we continue to keep the public informed as to what we are doing. Once we are done with major thoroughfares, we will also start to address street lighting on side streets throughout the island.”
She advised persons experiencing problems with streetlights within private residential developments to make their developers aware of their concerns, who in turn will relay the information to the GBPC.
“Street lighting on the island is the responsibility of the developer and/or the Grand Bahama Port Authority and the government. If you are in a private subdivision and you do not see us working in that subdivision to restore your lighting, it is probably a case where you need to have a conversation with your developers, as to if they have requested street lighting and/or paid for street lighting in that area.
“Some of those areas that have private developers, other than the government or the Grand Bahama Port Authority, they are responsible for street lighting in the area. While we would go ahead and execute that on their behalf, we can only execute it if requested and/or paid for by the developer.”
Additionally, she shared that the GBPC has a number of initiatives earmarked for 2017, which she encouraged their customers to take advantage of.
“Our customers should stay tuned to 2017. In 2016 we started our initiative, ‘The Year of the Customer’ and that continues into 2017. A big push for us, this year, is going to be energy efficiency. Before summer begins, starting in April, you are going to see a lot more advertisements coming out, giveaways to our customers to assist with light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, water heater timers – things that will really impact their bills.
“We really want our customers to get rid of their bad energy habits, understanding how they use their energy and electricity and how they can save on their energy costs,” Russell disclosed.
“We have a Geographic Information System (GIS) project that we launched as well, that will assist us in our reliability and our capital projects. Following Matthew, obviously, there was damage to our transmission and distribution (T&D) system; we now have a project where we are going back out and surveying all 25,000 poles on the island, to see the condition that they are in, to geo-tag their location.
“We will be taking a look at what instruments are attached to that pole, transformers, insulators and things of that nature. That helps us, because it allows us to know that in the event of another storm, where our assets are and help us to better manage a restoration process.
“It also enhances our reliability for the rest of the year that would allow us to proactively change out poles if needed, as well as proactively change out any transformers or anything that would impact our customers not getting the reliability that they deserve,” stated Russell.
The safety initiative is also one, Russell said, the GBPC intends to relay to their customers, with respect to their daily lives as well.
“Another big commitment that we are focused on this year is a safety campaign that impacts our customers. Our number one pillar at GBPC is safety first. We take that home to our families; we want to extend that to everyone’s family.
“This year we are going to champion the cause of safe driving. We realize that that is a major issue throughout the islands, distracted driving. We accept the role that cellphones play in that. Our employees have taken on the campaign, where we will be using their faces and their voices to empower individuals to understand the dangers of driving while texting and distracted driving as a whole.
“For 2017, while we are already through the first quarter, our employees are going to play a very active role in getting our messaging out for us this year,” concluded Russell.
Published Friday, March 31, 2017