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Locals complain forced outages cause appliances to fail

By Oyaol Ngirairikl HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 30, 2011) - Guam Power Authority (GPA) has had 39 forced outages in the last three months.

GPA spokesman Art Perez said the recent outages are due to blown lightning arresters, downed static lines, downed conductors and insulator failures.

"Due to Guam's corrosive environment, equipment failure is more evident here on island than in the U.S. mainland. GPA's Transmission and Distribution Division is aggressively tackling these issues in line with its preventive maintenance program," he said.

Over the last several months, local residents have had to put up with "forced" power outages, increasing concerns that appliances and other power-consuming household items could be damaged. Just yesterday, the power agency announced a two-hour outage for Apra Heights, and Talofofo to Ipan, due to damaged hardware at the Apra substation that needed to be replaced.

Residents have said, aside from causing temporary inconvenience, these outages affect the functionality of their household appliances.

Asan resident Kevin Ignacio, 29, said an outage last year caused his appliances to stop working. He had to call an electrician for US$175 to get the appliances to start working again, he said.

Sinajana resident Marsha Pangelinan said, in the last 10 years, she's had to purchase four new telephones as a result of power outages. "For some reason, it just kills it," she said, adding that she hasn't used surge protectors.

At first, Pangelinan thought she was buying low-quality telephones, she said. But then she found she was replacing phones all too often.

According to electrician Kenneth Leon Guerrero, owner of Kindo Electric, certain kinds of outages can affect residents' appliances and even cause a fire, if any electronics are plugged into a voltage source that exceeds its voltage parameters. "If a device fails, you don't know what's going to happen. When GPA voltage exceeds its normal parameter, it's hard on appliances and everything," Leon Guerrero said.

In such a case, residents should shut the breakers off and isolate their houses from the problem, he said.

GPA generally recommends residents protect their electrical equipment and appliances by shutting them off until power is restored.

Perez said Guam Power Authority has maintenance programs including scanning lines to see if they need replacement or repairs, and trimming trees and vegetation that could fall or contact lines to minimize outages. Perez said despite the recent forced outages, GPA's system is "robust."

"For example, any generation or transmission circuit can experience a forced outage without affecting the rest of the system," Perez said.

Perez said if a generator is experiencing a forced outage, another generator is put online to minimize the loss of power capacity and ensure residents continually receive power services.

Perez said recent forced outages are isolated incidents, and "GPA is working to address these issues."

Part of that effort includes a regular maintenance program, Perez said. "But as with any aging infrastructure, equipment and lines will break down at some point in time, Perez said. Guam Power Authority works to mitigate this by investing millions of dollars for large scale capital improvement projects."

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