The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. will continue its efforts to persuade commercial customers to connect to the utilities grid, according to its executive director, Alan W. Fletcher, yesterday.
This comes after the House Committee on Public Utilities and Transportation and Communications recommended shelving the CUC-backed House Bill 18-41, which proposes to require businesses to hook up to CUC’s power grid.
“While CUC is supportive of the bill, we will respect the committee’s action. CUC is committed to continue working with unconnected commercial customers to persuade them to connect to the system,” Fletcher told Saipan Tribune.
Fletcher said there are currently 12 major self-generating businesses on Saipan, representing a disconnected load of 9.9 megawatts. When compared to Saipan’s current connected utility load, he said this represents 26 percent of the total island load.
“CUC believes that connecting these loads would help to lessen potential health risks and nuisances caused by running generators. In addition, the extra business will help all consumers by spreading out fixed costs to a larger base, thereby easing electrical utility rates,” Fletcher said.
The CPUC committee endorsed shelving the bill after determining that requiring large commercial customers such as hotels to connect to the CUC grid at this time is not reasonable, expressing doubts about the capability of CUC to provide a stable power supply.
In July this year, CUC’s power generation reached a peak of 74MW on Saipan—a level that CUC officials described as sufficient to meet the required energy reserve for the island.
From April 2012 through March 2013, CUC generated a monthly capacity of 74.9MW and recorded a peak demand of 35.30MW, leaving the agency with 112-percent reserve margin or extra generation capacity for unanticipated incidents.
Unlike in the U.S. where required reserve margin is at least 15 percent, other utilities like CUC has to maintain a reserve energy of 50 percent to 75 percent because it cannot purchase electricity from other utilities in times of emergencies.
The sufficient power production is attributed to the progress made in rehabilitating and upgrading the engines of CUC’s Power Plant 1, which used to produce only 9MW in 2009 compared to its present production capacity of 62MW.