CUC not anticipating rolling blackouts


Despite the austerity measures being implemented not only in government but also in the private sector, the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. is not expecting to implement any rolling blackouts on Saipan.

Rolling blackouts occurred 10 years ago because CUC didn’t have enough fuel, said CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho in response to Rep. Sheila Babauta’s (Ind-Saipan) question during a meeting last week with members of the House Public Utilities, and Transportation and Communications Committee in the House of Representatives’ conference room.

If CUC does not have the money to buy fuel, then the electric power supply will be shared across the island and that would cause rolling blackouts, Camacho said. “But as far as mechanical, I think we are fine,” he added.

Part of a recent power outage occurred during the first week of independent power producer Aggreko’s operation when the system had to be adjusted.

Camacho said they are now overhauling and repairing power engines and that Aggreko is here to enable CUC to turn off the engines for rehabilitation work.

“Aggreko is [intended] to supplement that load in the reserve capacity. Now, if we lose an engine in this process we may have a problem. But nothing is anticipated,” he said.

Camacho said they can turn off power engine No. 5 at Power Plant 1 in Lower Base for overhaul, when the repair work on engine No. 6 is completed.

He said the problem with engine No. 5 is that the group selected to overhaul it was supposed to arrive on March 16, but the engineer was doing a project in China.

“So that whole quarantine [due to coronavirus outbreak] pushed that three weeks. That whole group of people would not start on time. But for the right reason. Keep them out there until they are clear,” Camacho said.

After the overhaul on engine No. 5 is completed, then they can overhaul engine No. 7.

“By that time, Aggreko can move on if we have no need for them. So that’s how the plan is,” Camacho said.

Camacho said a new mechanical engineer for the power plant will soon be coming on board. He said the mechanical engineer had already been interviewed and that they are just preparing the final documentation.

He said the position has been vacant when their previous mechanical engineer passed away three months ago.

Camacho earlier stated he would recommend to the CUC board not to cut the CUC workers’ 80-hour work schedule.

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

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