Power PROBE @BL&P a Must!

The blogmaster inquired from Chris Halsall how would a distributed power generation model affect BL&P’s profit and loss in the aftermath of last week’s catastrophe –Barbados Gone Dark.

He responded as follows:

ROK (RIP) and I relied on Douglas Skeete during the rate hearings for the financial dimensions, but my understanding is moving to a distributed generation model would have no impact on the BL&P revenue model. No changes to the equations, simply the variables.

BL&P is allowed to earn up to 10.48% based on the Rate Base. The Rate Base is the amount of capital invested in “plant” that is directly responsible for power Generation, Transmission and Distribution. As this is amortized over time, what this actually means BL&P is allowed to make less profit unless they reinvest in the plant.

BL&P will always be needed by Barbados to invest in, maintain and manage the T&D. It’s a “natural monopoly” (and unbelievably complex) — you don’t want multiple different providers each erecting their own poles and then stringing cables. BL&P will also always be responsible for a large percentage of the generation.

It is important to note that this is not going to happen overnight. And there are legitimate concerns by BL&P — it might have to carefully manage an environment where they don’t control all of the generation capacity that the country might need at any given time, but would still be responsible for getting the electrons from where they’re being generated to where they’re needed.

And, the transmission network might require upgrading, if, for example, large generation capability is planned to come online somewhere where appropriate capacity doesn’t already exist. Who would pay for that, the BL&P (and, thus, the power consumer), or the private generation provider?

This is a non-trivial problem space, with many, many dimensions.

The blogmaster will add to Halsall’s view on the obligation of BL&P given the permission by the regulator to earn  a 10.48% Rate of Return on Rate Base.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley indicated in one of her take charge interviews last week that the time  will come to hold actors in last week’s fiasco responsible – the priority now is to stabilize the power supply to the country. Sorry Prime Minister, the blogmaster does not agree, we can do both at the same time especially if we are confronted by negligence, greed and incompetence.

There is one observation those who followed the press briefings must be concerned about –  Managing Director of BL&P Roger Blackman boldly stated one of the reasons for not replacing old problematic diesel equipment was heavily influenced by government’s decision at the time to allow Cahill Barbados to operate a plasma gasification plan in Barbados.

The other issue that triggered concern was the feedback from BL&P that unwanted contaminants were discovered in the fuel supplied by Barbados National Oil Company Ltd (BNOCL). The obvious question is what responsibility does BL&P have to ensure the fuel supplied by BNOCL meets the specifications to ensure the old diesel engines do not have a bad reaction.

The local media should join Barbados Underground to question the quality of BL&P’s decision which has led to the current perilous state of affairs. Should citizens take comfort in the fact the regulator – Fair Trading Commission – has launched a probe? For years the BU family has raised concerns about energy generation in Barbados. It reached a peek during the Cahill saga. How does being reactive get us anywhere?

199 thoughts on “Power PROBE @BL&P a Must!

  1. @John… Please trust me on this, I understand the physics.

    I also know (from experience) that the theory and the empirical are often (somewhat) different.

    Any chance you (or anyone) could answer my questions? Is the current BWA plant public knowledge?

  2. Go and look for yourself at the Water Resources studies in the Public Library from 1966, 1978 and if it is there c.1994.

  3. If you are really serious about learning about the plant, you need to understand the mechanism through which the water is generated.

    The Senn Report from 1946 remains the source document for any of the studies on the water resources.

    So, read it and learn a bit of the geology that characterizes the water generation..

    By the time you get to the 1978 report you will begin to realise the pumping stations were not being added to likewise the reservoirs.

    Senn will inform you of what is possible to be extracted and you will realise that by 1996 the available water was all being extracted.

    So the current position of the infrastructure built to extract and store the water generated is being maintained, not added to.

    Could be wrong but once you read the material I have suggested you do you will realise what the current state of the plant is.

  4. @John… Yoga breaths…

    Could you please tell us all why you think a document published in 1948 can tell us all all we need to know today?

    I’m presuming you’re referring to Alfred Senn’s work for the British Union Oil Company?

    Despite some efforts, I’m not able to find the document available online. Perhaps you could provide a link to the document you claim will enlighten us all?

    Oh, and by the way… Water isn’t usually “generated” (although it can be by way of combustion). Usually it is collected.

    I’m always happy to learn. I don’t suffer fools well, though.

  5. Could you please tell us all why you think a document published in 1948 can tell us all all we need to know today?


    Old publications inform current actions.

    The Bible for example is a lot older than Senn.

    Legal Precedents can date back centuries.

    Senn is as current as it gets.

    Figure out the geology and how water appears or is generated in the coral if you want to understand what it is that BWA actually does.

    Read Senn!!

  6. Is the crisis at the BL&P the moment for the government to announce a comprehensive energy policy, based on solar, wind and wave, with a plan that they provide at least 50 per cent of our energy needs by 1930?
    Will such a policy also meet some of our climate change obligations and contribute massively to our economic growth? Would such a policy be a better one than We Gatherin’? By the way, whatever happened to the Diaspora conference?

  7. Hal,
    Good idea. However you do realise that our government is struggling to run a bus service of any description. We need to learn to walk before we can run.
    Let us stop thinking above our station.

  8. The 100 or so Ghana nurses recruited to come to Barbados next Jan. will be in for a rude awakening when they see the overburdening working conditions at the QEH
    Time and time again this govt has proven that they policies are akin to throwing new wine in old bottles
    The socio-economic conditions of barbados is in dire need of repair
    Like the BL&p and the BWA and the Sewer system which have all failed
    Govt still insist on blowing smoke in the people faces under a foolish disguise of “good governance”
    Another four years of this repetitive nonsense driven by untimely measures and gadawful policies barbadians can expect more poverty more crime and more suffering


  9. John

    Thanks for that video

    Some people want and expect perfection in all cases but when ask to “pull their pockets” its a different story

    The government announced it green energy expectation when in came to power and maybe also in it manifesto. it did not have to wait untilm the BL$P fiasco .

  10. Sometime when instances like what happened at BL&P/BWA happens we get a worse case scenario. We get to evaluate where we stand and put into place mitigating (affordable) remedies.

    This was a first case situation in which we had an islandwide power failure for so long and some of us in here bellyaching for perfection.

    In the following link read how the airport was prepared with two different power sources and the back up power was still taken.

    I share that to show that sometime you can be prepared for centain events but then something neutralizes all your preparations and you are left to do remedial work.


    • @John2

      You are spouting nonsense. The equipment at BL&P has been exposed to being old old old and as far as redundancy and BCC is concerned must be accepted as a crisis matter for the country.

  11. @All…

    So, other than some noise, there’s been no response to my question about the public availability of knowledge of the current BWA plant.

    Does the public really not know what the current situation is?

    If only we had an FOIA…

  12. David

    I was not defending the BL&P (I should have added that but I for got). BLp is to blame for the prob with its old equipment.
    I was more referring to BWA and it preparation/ lack of adequate preparation for the events that followed.

    They are prepared to a certain extent but not for such an event.
    Atlanta airport was prepared for an electrical outage with back up power but the fire took out the main source and the back.
    Sometimes you cannot be prepared for every event but you prepare for what you can according to your capabilities.

    • There are enough signs whether rotten mains, collapsing sewage or waste water stations, unstable HR management and industrial relations, out of spec water meters, weak agreements with vendors, derelict reservoirs what more can be said. We have to discuss the matters plaguing BWA against such a background.

  13. David
    November 26, 2019 10:18 AM

    You are spouting nonsense. The equipment at BL&P has been exposed to being old old old and as far as redundancy and BCC is concerned must be accepted as a crisis matter for the country.


    In the late 80’s or early 90’s the output of the BL&P I remember being told was of the order of 100 megaWatts.

    The report I linked to from 2012 or so, showed the output to have more doubled.

    Over the previous 20 years a whole lot of new equipment was added.

    More recently a 40 acre Solar Farm was added too.

    I think you need to re read what has been reported to have been said because while it may be true that some equipment is old, it does not look like all equipment is old!!

    All you need to do is determine the output of BL&P over time to determine the age of the plant.

  14. @ Donna

    Just curious. Usually, with your major customers, you have regular talks, carry out risk assessments, what we call what ifs? What if there was a BL&P outage? What if the generators grind to a halt? What if a terrorist/criminal attacked the plant? Such risk planning is a key part of management. It does not look to me as if this was the case with BWA and BL&P.
    When I was gainfully employed, we had our servers off site, we had emergency contacts for all staff, and substitutes, the same if the printers or distributors were attacked – in other words, we planned to continue the business in any imaginable situation.
    And, after, you have a post mortem – not a PR opportunity – in order to improve the preparations.

  15. A person with a sound knowledge of physics and the ability to think critically would apply the same logic to BWA and look at the output of the BWA in cubic metres per year if they wanted to assess the plant in BWA

    Where would they find such data?

    In the economic and social report issued by the GOB.

    I’ve linked to it in times past to demonstrate the simple fact that the output of BWA maxed out around 1996 as forecast in the 1978 Water Resources Report.

    Since the output is constant and has been for the past 25 or so years, whatever plant existed 25 years ago will still be the plant anyone possessing a sound background in physics and an analytical mind would expect to find.

    Let me link once more to the Economic and Social Report.

    Look at Appendix 28

    It looks like more recently the GOB has removed the Appendix because the output of the BWA is steady.


    So if such a person wanted to know the locations of reservoirs in Barbados, such a person could look at a 1978 Water Resources Study at the applicable map.

    If such a person wanted to know the output of a particular pumping station he/she could look at the tables with the design yields of each pumping station from 1978.

    If he really got curious and wanted to know which areas are fed by which reservoirs and which reservoirs are fed by which pumping stations, all that data, well info, would be tabulated.

    But I guess it depends on how badly the person wanted to know!!

  16. But I guess it depends on how badly the person wanted to know!!


    … and how smart he/she was!!

  17. @John. You are tiring…

    I’ve always worked in commercial environments. I define the knowledge I need, and people get it for me.

    I ask again: what is the currently installed BWA plant?

    An Excel (or OpenCalc) spreadsheet would be fine.

  18. John

    I the last major drought additional wells/ storage tank came online in Sweetvale, St George and Hampton (I think), St Phillip. There was also upgrades at the bell PS. Also the desal plant is producing .
    I doubt very much that the output from BWA has stagnated since 1996

  19. I doubt very much that the output from BWA has stagnated since 1996


    According Appendix 28 to the Barbados Economic and Social Reports you would be wrong.

    It is constant around 54 million cubic metres per year.

    It is common sense.

    The catchment area is limited and the rainfall is limited.

    This is not rocket science!!

  20. Consumption
    (Cubic Metres) Million
    Year Metered Non-Metered TOTAL
    1987 10.6 34.1 44.7
    1988 10.6 34.8 45.4
    1989 18.0 22.2 40.2
    1990 14.0 34.5 48.5
    1991 14.4 30.1 44.5
    1992 11.5 38.8 50.3
    1993 12.7 40.6 53.3
    1994 18.7 34.6 53.3
    1995 10.6 29.6 53.6
    1996 14.0 44.0 58.8
    1997 13.0 46.0 59.0
    1998 15.0 42.0 57.0
    1999 34.3 18.4 52.7
    2000 31.6 20.1 51.7
    2001 32.5 21.9 54.4
    2002 30.8 23.1 53.9
    2003 29.6 24.1 53.7
    2004R 33.9 20.1 54.0
    2005R 33.0 21.0 54.0
    2006R 27.8 n.a. n.a.
    2007P 27.1 n.a. n.a.

  21. Between 1987 and 2005 out rose from 44.7 miilion cubic metres per year and plateaued at 54 million cubic metres.

    Since then there is no data because even the innocents can figure out that 54 million cubic metres per year is what will be produced from 2006 onwards!!

    I can think of only one new reservoir …. at Apes Hill.

    Mount Stepney has been rebuilt.

    Rock Hall has been rebuilt.

    As far as reservoirs are concerned, I believe only one has been added and maintenance effected on the rest as funds allow.

  22. The “desal” plant belongs to Ionics and processes brackish water.

    So it needs mostly fresh water and it gets it from the same catchment as the Belle, Codrington and Waterford.

    The slight fall in output from the BWA between 1996 and 2000 reflects I believe the volume taken to be processed at Ionics.

    Unless Ionics processes sea water there will be no increase in water supplied.

    Each of the supply wells has a design yield based on the catchment area which feeds it and the estimated rainfall.

    That does not change.

    Very often some of them on the West Coast with fixed volume pumps will start to raise salt water and have to be shut down because rainfall has been low.

    So whereas BL&P output may have doubled BWA has been stagnant.

    So here is the question for those brighter bulbs that may be on here.

    How could the BWA supply the same volume for the past 25 years and yet the demand for its product has grown as indicated by the growth in electricity supplied?

    My bet is no one on here can figure it out!!

    So I will give you a clue to part of the answer.

    It’s in the spreadsheet above!!

  23. @John. Sigh…

    Could you please provide columns in your spreadsheet which give the Ws consumed per plant location?

    Oh, and contemporaneous data in addition to historical would be appreciated. Daily resolution would be acceptable; hourly ideal.

    Thanks for your help.

  24. No bulbs went on.

    What happened in this period was more customers were metered and the rates were changed (increased too).

    Two things happened.

    First, consumers consumed less and second BWA got to have a more detailed knowledge of where it was losing water.

    So although the output was constant, BWA could supply more customers and make more water available to consumers.

    Here is the column on consumers for the period.


    The BWA essentially increased its consumer base by over 20,000 in the period.

  25. @John: “Here is the column on consumers for the period

    Just so you know, everyone knows that you’re “taking the piss”.

    Are you familiar with the term “dimensionless vector”?

  26. Could you please provide columns in your spreadsheet which give the Ws consumed per plant location?


    Since the output has flatlined the power consumed to distribute water must be flat as well, across the board.

    The issue is how do we get access to more sources of water?

    The pumping stations which will fluctuate day to day in power consumption will be the ones on the West Coast which often have to be shut down in dry periods but their contribution is small compared with Belle and Hampton, >60%.

    There will be breakdowns as well when no power is consumed and then periods when the pumps will run longer to make up the loss.

    It would be interesting to see the output data for BWA post 2007 but I suspect the GOB doesn’t want to publish it because anyone with an eye will see the flatline in output and know the possibility of development is nil!!

    I have been as good as told by technical staff at the BWA that they dare not say that development is limited by the water supply!!

  27. Read the Water Resources Study at the Public Library.

    It is the same advice I was given by Nicky Sealy in 1987.

    I had the sense to take it!!

  28. @All…

    OK, I can only conclude based on the amount of energy being spent introducing noise into this discussion that perhaps there’s “something there there”.

    I have no skin in this game, beyond a natural inquisitive interest.

    Does anyone have any actual information they can provide?

  29. I saw that too John2.

    But this is the official GOB data.

    I sticking to the official unexpurgated from the GOB report!!

    Can’t go wrong here … or can you?

  30. Piece..since the fowls dont talk to me no more and u and them still are the best of friends, ya might want to ask them for me IF it’s true that a minister of government funded by taxpayers is now in Dominica viewing the elections..just asking, don’t wat to get involved.

    “How is it that a Barbadian Government Minister is on leave and is participating in the election campaign of Dominica ? May be the Dominica Labour Party wants ” More” help.”

  31. @W…

    How is this relevant to the current discussion of the Barbados plant?

    It isn’t, of course. It’s instead distractionary, which was exactly your intention.


  32. ” Since last week’s outages, BL&P has buttressed its maintenance capacity with temporary crews from The Bahamas and Korea and as a result is again operating with excess capacity.

    In fact, while the island’s peak demand stands at approximately 145 megawatts, the company’s current generating capacity is back up to 247 megawatts.”

  33. Hants
    November 26, 2019 9:12 PM

    The well floor at the station collapsed last Thursday when a crew was attempting to repair damaged equipment. No one was hurt, but the BWA said customers from Kendal, Christ Church to Ragged Point, St Philip would be affected, as four million gallons of water would be out of the distribution network.


    In cubic metres that is about 15K. compared with a yearly total of 54 million islandwide.

    Not the end of the world for a pumping station with a design yield from the 1978 Water Resources Study of 12.5 million gallons per day.

  34. In fact, while the island’s peak demand stands at approximately 145 megawatts, the company’s current generating capacity is back up to 247 megawatts.”


    About 50% is diesel according to the 2012 report.

    Assuming this was off line due to diesel, given these #’s the peak demand of 145 Megawatts had to be met by an available capacity of 123.5 megawatts a deficit of 21.5 megawatts.

    I think we can rule out the old equipment blarney!!

    GOB just needs to make 60 acres of land available to BL&P to put down a solar farm which will be immune from fuel!!

  35. john2November 26, 2019 10:22 PM

    hopefully thy test it this time before using it. ha


    They wont have to test if the a fuel is purchased from reputable company

  36. Transparency a promised made by govt and a promise not kept
    It would be of interest to.know how much govt paid and how much gallons or barrels of that bad fuel govt bought from Jamaica
    The evidence is now clear for all to see that the old generators were comprised because of poor quality fuel bought with the permission of govt and sold to BL&P
    Questions which need to be asked of govt
    How much money came out of the treasury to buy the bogus fuel
    How much gallons were bought
    If govt plans on compensating BL&P for the money which BL&p paid govt for the bad fuel
    The games of smoke and mirrors by govt is now over and they been caught red handed and its time for govt to own up and be accountable for last week disaster in the energy meltdown
    It is now crystal clear that the old generators are operating sufficient and enough to service the country on the newly purchased fuel which was bought by a reputable company
    A lie cannot with stand truth

  37. “It isn’t, of course. It’s instead distractionary, which was exactly your intention.


    Wasn’t meant for this blog nor u…just scroll on by..that is what i do.

  38. David
    November 27, 2019 10:36 AM

    @John A
    Hampton pumping station is reported to be back online with reduced capacity.


    When a pumping station goes offline or suffers from reduced capacity it isn’t the end of the world.

    There are reservoirs around the island that will have water that can supply the reservoirs serviced by Hampton like Vineyard, Rising Sun and Providence.

    Those unaffected reservoirs are being constantly filled from their various assigned functional pumping stations so once the levels are watched closely, it is possible to divert water as necessary.

    Night time public consumption will dramatically fall so my guess is most of the diversion of water will happen then.

    Reverting to the 1978 Water Resources Study to understand the plant at Hampton, we see that Hampton has four shafts, 3 have design yields of 2.5 million gallons per day and one 5 million gallons per day.

    Reduced capacity tells me one or more is off line and one on more is unaffected.

    With the water that would be available from other reservoirs the inconvenience to the public can be minimized.

    • Based on latest reports the government must be given credit for BL&P committing to creating megawatt capacity by end of year. Out of every bad situation good is possible.

  39. re Out of every bad situation good is possible.

    are you thus saying then that by dillgently declaring that Solutions Barbados has no solutions for Barbados may result in some improvement therein?

  40. David

    Based on latest reports the government must be given credit for BL&P committing to creating megawatt capacity by end of year. Out of every bad situation good is possible.

    So am.i now to believe that through all the suffering placed on barbadians last week because of govt mistakes
    That i should be grateful that BL& P has made a commitment to govt
    Wuh Rh are u talking
    My memory not that short yuh got to be smoking weed
    This govt made a decision which cause unbearable punishment not to mention money foods and perishables spoiled and had to be replaced which came from out of pocket expense
    Now all u can talk about is giving govt credit
    Are u a butt hole or what
    No! I think u are just a plain poochlicker

  41. re Continue, time longer than twine.

  42. @All…

    OK, I’m going to “exit stage left”. I don’t think they’re anything further I can contribute to this discussion.

    One last observation to share, though…

    I have interacted with the BL&P in many different ways over the years. From being a customer to being an intervener during rate hearings.

    One thing which has always struck me is that almost all of the BL&P executives are also engineers. Most had worked “in the field” before being appointed to higher-level management positions.

    Heck, even the BL&P “Public Relations” guy I worked with during the FTC Rate Hearings, Mr. Stephen Worme, was an engineer. He could comfortably jump from “managing the message” to discussing deep physics.

    I hope and pray (to my gods) that the current BWA board is as strong.

    Namaste to all. 😎

  43. The old generators at Barbados light and power has been used for years to provide electricty across Barbados
    Reason being the company has top brass qualified engineers to oversee the running and maintenance of the generators
    Also past govt provided the quality of fuel which had to be used for the enery process at Barbados light and power
    Within one year all that changed and cheaper became a means of progress for barbados energy system.
    Therefore a govt not qualified in physics or science or having any accreditation in engery source took it upon themselves to sign an agreement with a low based energy company in Jamaica to buy cheap low grade fuel for barbados energy system
    Fuel which was sold to BL&P and pumped into the generators .
    Sadly but surely this fuel caused a negative reaction and a complete meltdown in providing electricity across the island for several days
    This govt now wants to sit across the table after a show of an exercise in total ignorance resulting in a poor and unacceptable governance with sufficient evidence to say the reason for last week power melt down must be placed at Mia Mottley feet

  44. Mottley sweet talk dont mean much to many barbadians whose lives have been turned upside down
    All across social media the rallying cry says” but we didn’t expect things to be this bad and so fast”
    The austerity measures are leaving a stinging effect on man woman and child and no amount of sweet talk can reduce the effect of the pain being felt
    Christmas is a time of festivity for the barbadian people but it is hard to feel festive when their is no money to buy basic needs
    This govt contiunues to show ingratitude to the people who gave them a 30-0 mandate.
    Even last week closure of the liquidation centre pointed and brought out a clear warning that this govt is insenstive to the needs of the people
    A warning so grave and despicable
    A warning full of inhumanity
    A warning that said that it doesn’t care about those people who would lose their jobs weeks before christmas
    Wow. All i can say is a crying shame and a country in need of leadership

  45. I heard govt mention about tax Rebate
    But it is almost Xmas when many are saying they havent got theres
    Again a govt with clouded vision using a long measuring stick to test the pluse of the people by use of throwing a pebble to make a wave
    However it seems that pebble fell very short to hitting water
    No water no wave
    Not kidding people pantry is empty and people are tired of living on empty promises
    Govt needs to get its act together or else

  46. @Mariposa November 28, 2019 6:55 AM “A warning that said that it doesn’t care about those people who would lose their jobs weeks before christmas.”

    Those workers will (will get pay out right?) receive a nice lump sum as severance payment, right? And then their 6 months unemployment benefits from the NIS, right? And then a new better paying job before their NIS runs out, right?

  47. David u need to shut to f up
    Where has govt been transparent in divulging critical info to public
    Here is a govt that stole bones from a slave grave site unknown to the public until word came to the public domain after the bones were delivered to its destination
    Come on David this govt is not known to be honest
    Emera engineers who should know the difference between oil and water said the fuel was contaminated
    Only thing Mia and her useless goons knows about oil is that which is called lard oil and
    if by chance they know anything about gas it would be that which passes through the anus and the mouths
    The latter govt has gladly used to blow smoke in the peoples face

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