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By Agnes Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, July 3) – The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. (CUC) has received offers of free power generators from a Philippine government agency and a private company based in the country.

Acting CUC executive director Tony Guerrero said that the Philippines' National Power Corp. has offered to "hand over" four to five engines to CUC if the Commonwealth would pay for the shipping costs.

In addition, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said that Prime Asia Group had made a similar offer to the Commonwealth.

Guerrero said that CUC is considering the proposal, but is also worried about the huge cost of bringing the engines to the CNMI.

"We have to take any assistance we can get. Obviously, it's going to be a logistics effort. We're talking about four or five engines that weigh over 20-30 tons each. That's going to take a lot of effort from both sides," he said.

Guerrero maintained that Napocor's offer is "very encouraging news" for CUC.

Napocor, a state owned company that is the largest power provider in the Philippines, has reportedly indicated that it could get the engines moved from its current location in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, to Saipan in about 30 days.

Guerrero also said that the engines could add a total of 40 to 45 megawatts to CUC's current power generating capacity-"more than sufficient to meet our reserve requirements and our capacity requirements."

Furthermore, CUC personnel are familiar with the type of generators being offered by Napocor, as they are similar to the ones currently being used on Tinian.

CUC could get the engines running in about six months upon delivery to Saipan, Guerrero said.

However, the governor said he would prefer to take an offer from a private company, rather than enter into a government-to-government deal.

"It really doesn't matter if someone [another government] is giving you something for free. But we prefer that we deal with the private sector and that's exactly what we're doing now. Napocor is like an autonomous agency of the Philippine government. I prefer that we deal with Prime Asia because it's a private company," Fitial said.

He added that Prime Asia's president would visit Saipan this week to discuss the island's power situation.

July 3, 2006

Saipan Tribune

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