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RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, Feb 19) – A $1.65 million [US$1.3 million] upgrade of the whole Aitutaki powerhouse, fully funded by government, will soon get underway pending some official confirmations and authorisations.

Aid management's Steve Barrett says the upgrade is in two parts - an improved reticulation system which is the integral cooling system, and construction of a physical building for the power house.

The building should be able to house a generator container, a proper control room, an office, store room and safe fuel facilities to ensure that there is no spillage.

Barrett says that the upgrade includes the purchasing of a new generator that can produce 460 kilowatts continuously.

The 2006-07 budget allocated $4.2m [US$3.3 million] to the outer island capital fund which was first introduced in 2005 and is monitored by aid management, who oversee capital expenditure for the outer islands.

Infrastructure projects costing $50,000 [US$40,000] or more are required to go through a comprehensive project cycle comprising project identification, feasibility study, design, tendering, implementation/construction, operation and maintenance and monitoring and evaluation.

According to Barrett, the company that will carry out the work is still being decided since the tender has yet to be awarded. He confirmed that five companies applied for the project - four overseas based and a local one.

The Aitutaki power station supplies power to over 600 consumers. A feasibility study in 2005 revealed a need for a new power house and generator.

The powerhouse has two existing generators each generating 520kVA (kilo volt-ampere) and needs staff to rotate shifts around the clock. The proposed new generator will not need 24/7 manual attendance.

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