PALAU GOVERNMENT OWES UTILITY $3.7 MILLION

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Power company had to take out loan for fuel

By Bernadette H. Carreon KOROR, Palau (Palau Horizon, April 27, 2010) - The Palau national government owes the Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) over US$3 million in electric bill.

Ken Uyehara in an interview cited that PPUC could have used the money to purchase fuel to run the new generators that are set to arrive in June.

As of yesterday, the government owes PPUC US$3.7 million; the cost of the new two five megawatt generators is US$4 million and to ensure money the purchase and the fuel, PPUC has secured a loan of US$3million from the National Development Bank of Palau (NDBP).

He said that despite the money owed to them, PPUC cannot cut the power off because it would be affecting essential services of the government such as hospital, sewer and water operation.

The two new generators will increase the capacity to 12 megawatts more.

These generators will be for the Malakal Power Plant use which will mean less power outages in Koror.

The Malakal and Ameliik power plants combined has a total capacity of 12,790.

The peak customer power usage reaches to 11,354 however the generators at both plants are aging with at least five engines down.

"The new generators will increase efficiency by 20 percent," Uyehara said.

He said PPUC is modernizing the system by getting new generators.

Uyehara however said PPUC is still conducting repair and rehabilitation of the old engines which they conduct at night when consumption is low.

On Tuesday, several areas in Palau experienced at least two-hour power outages due to water getting into the power plant.

Uyehara said the Aimeliik Plant has to be shut down in order to conduct repairs by bleeding out the water from the engines.

A 30-minute power interruption also occurred at around 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Uyehara said a small generator at the Malakal Plant suffered from a circuit breakdown.

He said that the reason for the breakdown was that there was a rat nest discovered inside the engine.

Uyehara also revealed that PPUC will replace generators at the outer islands which are not only aging but at the same time very expensive to maintain.

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