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Power situation debated for Port Authority

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - While the Port Authority of Guam is moving ahead with an emergency procurement for new generators to keep the operations at the agency going when power goes out, concerns have been raised about what will happen in the interim.

Port authority general manager Joanne Brown says acquiring generators for the agency is an immediate need. She told KUAM News, "In order to be able to sustain the operations of the Port, we're absolutely required to have backup generation capacity, not just for our own operations, but for Homeland Security requirements and our federal requirements as a designated facility."

As the 16th strategic port in the nation, Brown says the generators are a necessity.  In May of last year, there was initial damage to power lines at Load Center 4. Emergency procurement provided for the lines to be repaired, as Brown added, "However in the interim period of several weeks, we ran the generator 24 hours a day to provide the power supply to our refrigerated containers.  Unfortunately, that particular generator went down. "

As a result, the GM says her agency removed the backup generator from the Administrative Building and moved it to Load Center 4, which means there is no backup generation capacity for the administrative operations as well as for Load Centers 2 and 3. "That is a very, very critical situation," she explained. "If a day like this, with inclement weather, if we go off GPA power for any period of time, we will not be able to operate significant components of this port, that's not acceptable."

Port oversight chair Senator Tom Ada agrees, and says the situation could be devastating if the power were to go out. "The concern that I have is that the emergency was declared because we do not have the generators that are needed as a backup and if the island power should go out tomorrow, we have containers down there that have fresh product in it, they won't have power to keep them going or whatnot," he speculated.

Brown says there were delays with General Services Agency in procuring the new generators as one potential bidder threatened to protest the specifications. As many as six interested companies will participate in a field visit on Thursday to the Port grounds to determine the needs and specs for the generators.

Senator Ada meanwhile believes there needs to be a contingency in place to address the real emergency, and said, "I think at the end of the emergency should be that we don't have reliable generators that are available and we should be procuring then under the emergency provisions standby generators in the interim while we are waiting for the new generators to come in."

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