Monday, October 27, 2008

NMI will remain under emergency declaration indefinitely

Monday, 27 October 2008 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Variety News Staff

Governor Benigno R. Fitial says the commonwealth will remain under a state of emergency declaration indefinitely or until the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.’s secures the necessary permitting requirements for the rented generators that currently provide additional power supply for Saipan.

During a press briefing on Thursday, the governor said he will renew for the fourth time next month the state of disaster emergency declaration for the CNMI mainly because of technicalities regarding CUC’s condition.

Saipan experienced long hours of blackouts daily for three straight years until mid-September.

The problem was only solved when the administration and CUC decided to rent for $504,000 a month 15 megawatts of containerized generators from the U.K-based Aggreko International Power Projects Ltd.

Aggreko is now producing enough energy for CUC to prevent another load shedding.

CUC’s contract with Aggreko is good for 12 months only.

The firm and CUC are required to comply with certain environmental requirements to continue to operate.

The emergency declaration essentially suspends certain procurement regulations to enable CUC to do such.

CUC is now in the process of having the antiquated power engines at power plant 1 undergo maintenance repair using federal grants.

The governor said if the Aggreko rented generators are taken off-line there will be rolling blackouts on island again.

“CUC desires to comply with environmental and land use regulations but fears that the lack of permits or the permitting process would postpone or eliminate the in-service date, and uninterrupted service for Aggreko power generating equipment,” the governor said.

“In particular, taking Aggreko’s units off line, while undergoing the time and expense of computer modeling of the emissions of Lower Base power plants could plunge Saipan into renewed rolling blackouts,” he added.

Executive Order 2008-13 is set to expire on Nov. 6.

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