Hospital back on the grid


The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. succeeded yesterday in bringing the local hospital back on the power grid, just 11 days after Typhoon Soudelor crippled the island’s power generation and distribution system.

“The hospital is back online,” acting CUC executive director John Riegel confirmed yesterday afternoon.

Power Plant 4—which generates power for the hospital—is at 4 megawatt capacity as of press time yesterday, according to Riegel.

The hospital is now drawing about 1 megawatt of energy, Riegel said. It had been relying on its generator.

About 16 power poles have also been hooked up from the power plant to the hospital.

“I compliment everyone involved,” Riegel said. “The people at the power plant, all the power plant operators who got that thing running. I want to compliment [Guam Power Authority] for all their hard work coming here and putting up the new poles, all the linemen, GPA management, Gary Camacho [CUC’S power division manager] who is leading the efforts there…”

“I also want to make recognition for all the guys in [Federal Emergency Management Agency] who have provided tremendous assistance. And the whole crew at [Emergency Operations Center] who’ve given continuous support throughout…”

“It was sequential how we got here. The first thing we did was assess the situation. We found out what was required to have to put things in order…and at the same time [we were] putting up the power poles, the power gen[eration] folks were drying out the generator and running the tests. “

“…Little by little, putting the power back and increasing the output ’til it was at a point where we were online and had the wires connected. [Then we] worked with hospital staff to make the switch from their generators to the line power,” Riegel said.

State of the grid
Returning power to the hospital was one step forward on a long road to full recovery for the utility.

All 14,662 electric customers on Saipan remain without power as of yesterday.

In their “Typhoon Soudelor Situational Report,” the U.S. Department of Energy said Power Plant 4 became operational on Wednesday.

Typhoon Soudelor damaged the plant’s distribution lines, roof, and generators.

On Wednesday, CUC started Generator Unit 2, operating under no-load.

DOE said on Wednesday that the damage assessment for the entire island has yet to be completed, with no timeline provided for completion, with CUC’s damaged pole count expected to increase as damage assessment continues.

CUC’s preliminary statistics of transformer damage and wooden power poles that are damaged and leaning follow:

40 damaged single-phase transformer assemblies, ranging in size from 10 kVA to 167 kVA.

17 damaged three phase transformer assemblies, ranging in size from 10 kVA to 167 kVA

295, 35-foot wood poles and 45-foot poles are either damaged or leaning. DOE notes this number is expected to increase.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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