CUC loses power reserve, seeks help from hotels


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is requesting about eight hotels, including Imperial Pacific Resort, to self-generate electric power at their establishments during peak hours as needed, as power engine No. 5 at CUC’s Power Plant 1 in Lower Base has some serious damage.

CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho said yesterday that engine No. 5, which produces 11 megawatts of power supply, experienced a failure last Saturday night, causing an outage in some areas on Saipan.

Camacho said an action plan has been put together to address the issue with engine No. 5 and CUC’s limited power capacity.

He said their power generation crews and the management are putting something together to get everything back to normal as soon as possible.

Asked if residents should expect more outages, Camacho said as long as the power engines continue to be fine until they are overhauled with the next few months, he believes the island will be good unless something occurs.

As of now, the executive director said, CUC almost does not have reserve power capacity that’s why they need to work with the hotels and also considering bringing in the emergency reserve power of approximately 15 megawatts.

Some hotels have their own engines to self-generate power supply.

Camacho said what happened last Saturday night was that when engine No. 5 experienced a failure and there was an outage, power plant 1 operators turned off feeders 4, 7, and Kiya 2 because of the amount of load the engine was carrying.

He said affected by the power outage that night for a period of time was the northern part of the island, then Capital Hill, Kagman, As Teo, As Lito, Koblerville, and San Antonio.

Camacho said the outage lasted for an hour and 20 minutes at some areas, and about two hours in Kiya 2 areas such as As Lito, portion of Finasisu, San Antonio, Koblerville, and a portion of Chalan Kanoa.

Camacho said upon further inspection it turns out that engine No. 5 has some serious damage and is going to require extensive repairs.

“This reduces our reserve capacity by 11 megawatts. And we are critically low and barely have any reserves at this time,” he said.

Camacho said he and their key staff met with Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios last Monday and yesterday to resolve the problem.

Camacho said they are reducing the power demand of the power plant by coordinating and communicating with large hotels.

He said they like to take the hotels out from power during peak loads for a period of time.

Camacho also disclosed that a technical engineer from one of the two manufacturers of the engine unit will be arriving this morning, Wednesday.

Camacho said the idea is to get power engine No. 6 back on line soon to replace the 11 megawatts produced by power engine No. 5.

He said on top of that, they like to do the overhauls that have been deferred on power engines Nos. 5 and 7.

Camacho said they are at discussions to ensure that CUC has reserve capacity during the repair period.

Camacho said the hotels are fine with such arrangement as they understand the situation.

He said hotels will not be off consistently but only two to three hours depending on the power demands during peak and as CUC needs.

“Sometimes we need more, sometimes we need less. We’re coordinating with the schedule with the hotels,” he said.

With respect to Imperial Pacific Resort, Camacho said, they have not officially confirmed anything, but that they would like for the establishment to help if they could, along with other hotels.

Camacho said CUC has been working with large hotels with such arrangement for many years anyway.

With respect to engines Nos. 5 and 7, Camacho said they are going to advertise quickly or ask to declare an emergency for major overhaul and repair of the damage.

He said there will be a contractor to come in and do the major overhaul along with some of CUC mechanical staff so they can continue to develop their skills.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

Related Posts

Disclaimer: Comments are moderated. They will not appear immediately or even on the same day. Comments should be related to the topic. Off-topic comments would be deleted. Profanities are not allowed. Comments that are potentially libelous, inflammatory, or slanderous would be deleted.