Army to help MEC

The first MEC power plant, pictured, was built in 1982. It is now slated for replacement with World Bank funding. Photo: Hilary Hosia.

The most pressing problem facing MEC is the construction of a replacement building to house new generators that will be installed in the first power plant, originally built in 1982.

Many of the Marshalls Energy Company’s improvement plans hinge on a new power plant building to house two or three new engines that are to be installed as part of a World Bank-funded program.

MEC is dealing, in part, with a piecemeal patchwork of improvements that, taken together, will yield long-term improvements. But they require a step-by-step process in order to work. MEC officials have said it is likely to take two years to stabilize Majuro’s power system despite tens of millions of dollars of donor funding for various aspects of it. See related power story, page 23.

Last year, US and RMI officials agreed on US funding for the US Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a Majuro power assessment. This plan is expanding, MEC General Manager Jack Chong Gum told the Journal this week.

“MEC is proceeding in engaging the services of the USACE to not only do an assessment of MEC’s generation and distribution systems on Majuro but also to review the conceptual design of the new Power Station 1 building,” Chong Gum said. “MEC and the government’s Project Manager Unit are also in discussion with USACE to possibly extend their services to also review the pre-final and final designs, subject to funding availability.”

Chong Gum said MEC wants the Army Corps to be part of the RMI review team to provide independent peer reviews of the designs to ensure the new building meets International standards and best practices.

Engineers from the Army are planning to visit Majuro in mid-April, Chong Gum said.
In addition to agreeing to fund solar equipment and new generators for the Majuro power plant, World Bank has also agreed to fund the cost of a new building for power plant one (the first power plant), he said.

With a World Bank funding commitment in hand for the new building, MEC “is is working on proposals and approvals to commence design services at the earliest,” he said.

Chong Gum said the MEC board has endorsed the World Bank funding and approach “as it will accelerate the process for constructing the building, which needs to be completed before the arrival of the new generators and to allow installation of the other improvements being implemented under the current World Bank project,” he said.

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