100% Of Power Lines Restored On Typhoon Damaged Saipan

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

CNMI utility meets ‘before Thanksgiving’ deadline

By Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 19, 2015) – The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. has successfully energized 100 percent of Saipan as all power lines are now back on the grid, meeting their "before Thanksgiving" deadline to restore power on the island.

"One hundred percent of our power lines are now energized," public information officer Brad Ruszala told Saipan Tribune.

According to Ruszala, all primary and secondary lines have been online since Nov. 9.

"We have the ability now to get everybody power. Before, we didn’t have lines up everywhere. Now that all the lines are up, it’s just a matter of getting people connected," he added.

Some houses and customers may still be in the dark, however, due to various reasons.

"The people who currently don’t have power, it’s because they need a transformer in their area to bring the power down so they can use it at the house or they need to get their weather head repaired or they need their meter inspected and get a drop line service," Ruszala said.

CUC is moving to the next phase of power restoration, which, ironically, would have residents experiencing more—but temporary—power outages.

CUC said it is now focusing on portions of Saipan’s power transmission and distribution system that were less seriously damaged by Typhoon Soudelor.

"The first part was to go through and get all the power restored on the feeders and now the lines are back, we’re fixing things that were observed were needed," said acting CUC executive director John Riegel.

Riegel said they are making sure that things are up to standard and are good for the long term.

"If it was good enough, they left it, but noting that we have to come back and address this. They are even doing some of the poles. Some of the poles were compromised but good enough to serve for a short period of time and now they’re going in and putting in new poles," Riegel said.

For this, the corporation will conduct a series of temporary power interruptions to allow linemen safe access to the primary lines for the replacement of essential power distribution materials.

"They need to do more frequent shutdowns for power to increase our efficiency in making other line repairs on laterals and connections. People can expect to see more of those," Riegel said.

He added that the power interruptions are necessary so that they can take full advantage while the men helping CUC are here.

The only visiting team left on Saipan to help with the power restoration, Primary Source Electric, will only be here until Dec. 18.

To maximize resources and accomplish their restoration goals as quickly as possible, CUC will schedule two to three interruptions per week.

Starting 8am Saturday, power interruptions will be experienced in Puerto Rico, Navy Hill (Upper and Lower), Garapan, Chinatown, Gualo Rai, Chalan Laulau, and along Quartermaster Drive to replace deteriorated power poles and hardware. Work on the repairs is expected to take up to nine hours to complete.

Next Tuesday, Nov. 24, a six-hour interruption is scheduled for Chalan Piao to replace deteriorated power poles and to install two air break switches.

The following Saturday, Nov. 28, expect power interruption for up to nine hours along the Kiya 2 feeder, including San Antonio, Koblerville, and As Lito as CUC will replace nine deteriorated power poles and hardware.

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