The Commonwealth Utilities Corp. was able to bring Power Plant 1 in Lower Base online late yesterday, providing power to most areas on Saipan.
CUC executive director Gary P. Camacho explained that they had to first assess the power plants before energizing the power grid, that they had to make sure that there were no breaches, like water getting into the power plants in Lower Base and in Puerto Rico.
As of 6pm yesterday, Power Plant 1 was up and running, while Power Plant 2 in Lower Base and Power Plant 4 in Puerto Rico were on standby.
Earlier in the day, at 3:32pm, feeder one was back online, energizing all partials. Feeders 2, 3, 4, Kiya 1, Kiya 2, and Kiya 4 followed online, energizing most areas of the island.
Only Kiya 3 is offline, pending repairs. Kiya 3 covers Middle Road from Sugar King onward to Gualo Rai.
As for water, CUC tested all chlorine residuals from all 14 water tanks as of 2pm yesterday. Out of the 14 tanks, seven have met the chlorine residual requirements.
The As Matuis tank is online, providing water to As Matuis, San Roque, Tanapag, Achugao, and Lower Base.
The Puerto Rico tank is also online, servicing water in Puerto Rico, Lower Navy Hill, and Garapan up to the Kristo Rai Church.
CUC said all other tank service areas are being verified for chlorination level and that CUC is confirming that wells are in operation before opening the tanks to prevent draining and loss of water supply. Once cleared, CUC said, other tank service areas will go online.
In an interview, Camacho said the power outage Monday night did not go out in one single time.
“A lot of fluctuation out there last night. We were okay until the late evening when the winds started to pick up,” added Camacho, saying that the power outage depended on the extent of the degree of the winds and how much damage the distribution system was incurring.
Camacho said the feeders tripped multiple times Monday at about 5:45pm. At that time, the winds were already becoming too challenging to do work in bucket trucks and becoming very dangerous for CUC’s field personnel.
He said the line crews could not go out to do any repairs so they had to stay off until Tuesday morning until the winds receded.
As to the resumption of the power supply, Camacho said they had to start with the power plants, although they have been assessing both the field and the power plants. He said the source of electricity is the power plants, so they want to make sure that there was no breach there.
Camacho said they needed to check if there is water in the control room and in the engine room, where the generators are.
“This is critical that we remain vigilant, be very careful and ensure that the personnel are safe before we start energizing electricity in the power plants,” he said.
Camacho said that once the power plant is clear, then that’s when they can start supplying power to the feeders.
Camacho said a lot of information is coming in from the field and the extent of the damage out there. He said they must first assess the field because, if there are a number of power lines on the ground, they can’t energize the feeders.
As of 9:30am yesterday, Camacho said, he has not seen any report about downed poles yet because the engineers are still out assessing the field and still collecting information.
He said water engineers are also preparing to review the water system and then start to open water wells in coordination with power.
Camacho said there was a confusion Monday about shutting down the water supply because of the reported schedule to turn off water at 3pm.
He said the water supply was shut down at 6:30pm Monday.