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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 8) - A power outage occurred yesterday morning, affecting different villages on Saipan, a day after the administration and the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. announced that the days of the rolling blackouts were over.

The power interruption surprised many residents who said the administration should keep its promise now that it is charging more for power.

"And I thought they said there would be no more rolling outages?" said one resident.

CUC Executive Director Lorraine Babauta said the unannounced power outages will go on for about three to four more days but there will be no more two-hour daily rolling blackouts.

Babauta said the newly repaired engine No.8, which can produce as much as 13.5 megawatts, is still not utilized to its maximum capacity pending full testing.

The engine is only producing 6.5 megawatts.

Babauta said yesterday’s outage was triggered by a loophole problem at engine No.8 which was later fixed.

"(Engine No.8) was carrying only 6.5 megawatts. We were advised by the power plant mechanics that they encountered a problem with the loop system," she said. "It’s beyond the scope of work of MAN B&W."

MAN B&W Diesel (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.’s job at engine 8 is limited to installing the machine’s 17 anchor bolts.

The job was done as scheduled on September 6. It also comes with a one-year warranty, according to the CUC executive director.

Two more engines, 3 and 4, are scheduled for maintenance and repair.

The combined costs for the repairs range from US$900,000 to US$1.15 million.

Babauta said engine No.3, which is also being fixed by MAN B&W, is scheduled to be up and running by October 14.

She said the machine’s custom-made crankshaft will be replaced with a new one that was ordered from Germany.

But it will take a while to repair engine No.4, said Babauta.

"It will take longer to repair engine No.4 due to the extent of damage. It will take maybe six to eight month," said Babauta.

Governor Juan N. Babauta yesterday held a media briefing to tell reporters that "we are making progress but we do have a lot of work ahead of us."

He reiterated that his state of emergency declaration that has placed CUC, a semi-autonomous agency, under his control since May 19, was necessary to prevent periods of blackouts.

September 9, 2005

Marianas Variety: www.mvariety.com

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