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SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 22) – Barely two days after the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. fixed a troubled engine with new parts from Singapore, another engine broke down, causing blackouts for more than an hour in parts of Garapan and San Jose.

CUC spokeswoman Pamela Mathis said a 7-megawatt engine at power plant 1 was not working. An intake valve through which air and water pass was apparently in trouble.

With 7 megawatts less, an unannounced power outage occurred in different parts of Garapan and nearby villages around 11:20 a.m. Power was restored by 12:40 p.m.

Mathis said power plant operators turned off half of the electric grid in feeder 2 causing a power outage.

"The cause of the outage was a shortage of energy when a 7-megawatt generator at power Plant one was shut down after alarms sounded. Emergency repairs were made to the intake valve, where diesel and air enter the unit to make energy," said Mathis.

"Saipan’s energy demand increases each morning at about 9, with a bigger demand at lunch, and as afternoon temperatures increase, more air conditioners are used, making it more difficult for the utility to keep pace with public demand for power. The biggest demand comes between 7 and 8 each night," she added.

Last Friday night, an unannounced power outage occurred in Sadog Tasi, Capital Hill, As Teo and Kagman villages.

The incident was blamed on a different engine that overheated that day.

"The same engine continued to have over heating problems on Saturday and electricity was turned off another three times for the same customers. Although the utility attempts to minimize outages to the same villages on the same day, operator error resulted in the same feeder being tripped off three times on Saturday," said Mathis.

She said the community is likely to experience more unannounced power outages as temperatures increase this summer and the antiquated engines at power plant 1 experience overheating problems.

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