Lightning Disrupts Power Services On Upolu In Samoa

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Local businesses disappointed by sudden power cut

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, Samoa (Talamua, Sept. 3, 2013) – In Samoa, it was confirmed today that a bolt of lightning around 3pm killed the electricity supply yesterday in parts of Upolu Island.

It struck a breaker on an electrical pole, Minister of Electrical Power Corporation, Manu’alesagalala Enokati Posala, said.

"Only parts of the country were without power but not the whole of Upolu," said Manu’alesagalala.

The difficulty was trying to pinpoint which breaker the lightning had struck, he said.

"The workers had to check all the electrical posts from Fuluasou all the way to Fiaga at Aleisa," he said.

They located the harmed breaker and fixed it, but another problem arose.

Insufficient strength in the connection Fuluasou and Fiaga caused the on-off supply yesterday, not helped by the distance between the two power stations.

"All generators are safe, nothing was damaged," the minister said.

Cyclone Evan last December badly damaged the hydro power stations of Alaoa, Fale ole Fe’e, Loto Samasoni and Tanugamanono.

It left Fuluasou as the sole hydro station currently in use which lacks the capacity to supply the whole country.

"Government then decided to use all options to cater for such problems by having the overhead transmission and the underground cables," said Manu’alesagalala.

Overhead transmission lines are vulnerable to lightning as witnessed yesterday.

Underground transmission offers an option to fall back on when overhead wires suffer damage.

"If the overhead transmission is damaged, we automatically switch to the underground cables," said the Minister.

The laying of such cables from Fiaga Power Station is only one kilometre from completion, he said.

The Fiaga electrical project, which the power station is part of, was officially launched in April this year.

It was built from funds of US$100 million allocated for the Power Sector Expansion Project 2008-2016.

Fiaga is part of the project which includes four new hydro stations expected to be built soon at Falease’ela, Tafitoala and Fuluasou in Upolu Island and Palauli in Savai’i Island.

The project for a hydro station at Vaiaata, Savai’i, has already been tendered out.

Apolima Island is supplied by solar power while electricity to Manono Island comes from undersea cables.

A submarine cable to connect Upolu and Savai’i islands is planned once the hydro stations are in place.

"If Upolu has difficulties, Savai’i will provide and vice versa," said Manu’alesagalala.

The Minister apoligised for the inconvenience caused by the power outage yesterday.

Businesses voiced disappointment at the sudden cut in power – as did organisers of Teuila Festival events.

Yesterday organisers of Wellness are Beauty aerobics had to scream and dance to clapping because their sound system died.

Guests at Elisa Hotel in Sogi left to eat in outdoor restaurants.

Skippy restaurant and Top Taste closed early, so did Maries Bakery, Citimart Café and Nelly’s Taste.

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