SAIPAN POWER PLANT OPERATING SINGLE ENGINE

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Island getting less than half needed power

By Kristi Eaton

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Sept. 1, 2008) - With only one engine operating at Power Plant 1 since Friday, the island has been running on just 19 megawatts of power.

As of yesterday afternoon, engine six at Power Plant 1 was the only engine working, said Antonio Muña, executive director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. Nine of the 10 engines at Power Plant 4 continue to run.

It takes about 41 megawatts to power the entire island of Saipan. This means a deficit of about 22 megawatts.

CUC employees have been working 16-hour days, attempting to get the other engines at Power Plant 1 running, Muña said. Engine 8 was running for a few hours but encountered problems with water leaks.

"[Engine 8 was] up for just a few hours. At one point, it had four megawatts, but unfortunately, it went down again," he said. Muña said he hopes the engine would be operational by the end of the evening yesterday.

Employees are hoping to have engine 3 running soon as well, he said. But engine 2 won't be in operation until the end of the week.

On Friday, CUC announced a new two-engine load shedding schedule with three-hour outages rotated across the island three times in a 24-hour period. This equates to a total of nine-hour outages daily.

CUC, however, failed to follow the schedule.

Muna said the agency is not able to follow the schedule when only one engine at Power Plant 1 is operating. The outages are longer and more extensive with just one engine running.

CUC is focusing on providing the airport with 24-hour power and providing the Garapan tourist district with power in the afternoon and evening, leaving CUC with "very little to work with" for the rest of the island, Muna said.

CUC employees have also tried to provide more power to feeder 1, where Isley Field is located. Isley Field houses 45 percent of water wells on Saipan, producing about 50 percent of the water on island, Bruce Megarr, deputy director for the Water and Sewer Division at the Commonwealth Utilities Corp., said Saturday.

Aggreko generators are expected to start running by mid-September, providing an additional 15 to 18 megawatts of power to the island.

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