Guam’s unresolved power outages linked to visa and procurement issues?
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
The Guam Power Authority’s contractor lacks skilled technicians to perform the necessary repairs on its nearly five-decades-old plant in Piti, according to Vice Speaker Tina Muna Barnes.
On behalf of the Taiwan Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Services Corp. or TEMES, Muna Barnes is seeking federal assistance in expediting the deployment of Taiwanese technicians to Guam to fix the Cabras 2 plant.
“TEMES has reached out to our office to seek your assistance,” Muna Barnes said in a letter to Guam Del. James Moylan, Joint Region Commander Rear. Adm. Gregory Huffmann and Gretchen Sierra-Zorita, associate director for Puerto Rico and territories.
“While the technicians needed from Taiwan can get on a plane and come to Guam today without visas asa tourist, they are prohibited from conducting the work our island desperately needs,” the vice speaker said.
TEMES operates Cabras 2 plant, which was built 48 years ago.
“Given the age of the plant, and the typhoon, Cabras 2 continues to face its fair share of challenges. In our discussion with TEMES, we learned that due to the lack of skilled personnel on Guam, only temporary band-aid fixes can be done,” Muna Barnes said. “This causes continuous challenges for the plant with it needing to be taken offline for fixes on a regular basis.”
She noted that the laborious work visa process can stall the deployment of Taiwanese technicians to Guam.
“We humbly seek your assistance to get the necessary technicians to Guam in an expeditious manner,” the vice speaker stated in here letter.
“Based on our conversations with TEMES, they would only need a handful of employees to come to Guam, and should things go as planned, their stay on Guam would be for a very limited time until the job is completed," Muna Barnes added.
Four months since Typhoon Mawar made landfall on Guam, the island continues to bear with load shedding almost on a daily basis.
She noted that Guam’s power predicament may compromise the U.S. military’s operations on island.
“Given Guam's strategic importance to national security, and the fact that the challenges posed by the lack of power generation capacity on Guam impacts not only our local residents but soldiers, their families and military installations on Guam alike, we hope you see the importance of resolving this issue in a timely manner,” Muna Barnes said.
“Due to the fragile state of Guam's power infrastructure and the damage sustained to our new generators, the lack of power generation capacity has made multiple daily outages a regular occurrence on Guam,” Muna Barnes said.
There’s also the procurement issue.
Last week, Sen. Sabina Perez said she has been coordinating with agency leaders to identify and address procurement issues across the government.
She said Public Law 35-109, which she authored in the 35th Guam Legislature, expanded the use of emergency procurement, allowing agency heads to write a certificate of emergency in order to procure supplies, services or construction works in an expedited manner.
“Public Law 35-109 is one measure currently in existence that could potentially address load shedding,” she said.
The Guam legislature last week publicly heard Bill 36-37, which proposes to establish a new categoryknown as “critical procurement contracts” involving procurement that cost above $5 million.
The bill would create an expedited process to resolve any protests involving these contracts “in order to strike a balance of strengthening local procurement throughthe protest process and acquiring much needed criticalprocurement contracts to meet the needs of our community.”
“In regular communications with GPA, I have been reassured that Bill 36-37 is not essential to the agency’s efforts to fix the current load shedding issue,” said Perez, author of Bill 36-37.