Power stabilizes in Majuro

Power service has improved as both large generators are operating simultaneously for the first time in over two years. Meantime, last week, the salt water cooling pipe for engines in the old plant (pictured) burst, forcing them to be shut off until repairs could be made.The Journal hesitates to report that there have been far fewer power outages the past couple of weeks compared to recent weeks and months — but it’s a fact.

The primary reason is that Marshalls Energy Company has returned the second large engine (“number seven”) to service. But, and there usually is one when dealing with technology in the RMI, engineers have so far been unable to get the engine to produce at its maximum power rating of 6.2 megawatts. Still, it is operating at about 4.5 megawatts, which means if engine six (the other big engine) has a problem, with engine seven in operation, lights can stay on in the capital. “It’s good news,” said MEC General Manager Jack Chong Gum. “Engine number seven is running again after more than two years.”

Chong Gum explained that MEC had done all of the adjustments to number seven as recommended, but when it is run at full power, the engine temperature is too high. This is why it is being run at the lower 4.5MW level. “The temperature is the only issue,” he said. The plan is to run a few more diagnostic tests and then bring back Deutz engineers from Australia to sort out the temperature problem.

“Once we can run number seven at full capacity, we will shut down number six for at least a month to do much needed maintenance,” said Chong Gum.

Fortunately, engine number seven was running last week when the salt water cooling system pipe for the old power plant engines burst, forcing MEC to take two engines in that plant off-line. “Without number seven in operation, we would have had a black out,” Chong Gum said. It took MEC several days to fix the pipe problem because the location where the pipe burst was under a concrete foundation outside of the old power plant.

With the pipe problem resolved and the old engines back in action, MEC engineers could get back to running tests on number seven. “Our engineers have done all they can,” he said. “We’ll get the Deutz experts back in the next couple of weeks.”

Read more about this in the September 30, 2016 edition of the Marshall Islands Journal.