Crew members from Washington State’s Snohomish County PUD remain in Guam, helping with power restoration efforts after a typhoon knocked out power to a vast swath of customers in May.
Typhoon Mawar hit Guam on May 24, causing widespread devastation and knocking out power to nearly all of GPA’s 52,000 customers. Guam Power Authority officials reached out to the American Public Power Association to request mutual aid assistance.
“GPA has been extremely accommodating and supportive of all of our crews and blown away with the amount of efficiency and professionalism” they have exhibited, said Paul Kiss, PUD Operations Superintendent. “The crews have been doing a phenomenal job with the material and equipment we brought or has been provided to us.”
Two PUD transmission line trucks and a mechanics truck were flown to Guam on the largest cargo plane in the world, an Antonov AN-124-100-150, noted Aaron Swaney, PUD spokesman.
They left Sea-Tac airport in Seattle on June 13 and arrived about a week after the crews. The trucks arriving “were a huge boost for the crews and allowed them to feel the comfort of working with their own equipment and vehicles,” Swaney noted.
“Our crews are doing really well in Guam,” he said. “They have been extremely busy since they left on June 6. Most are working 16-hour shifts and then getting about six hours of sleep. Not a lot of downtime! Guam Power Authority has been great to work with and very appreciative of our crews’ efforts and contributions to restoring their grid.”
All of their work “so far has been on repairing 115-kV transmission lines. They’ve been working on both steel poles and lattice towers, pulling up several spans of large transmission wire, replacing numerous 115-kV insulators and repairing 115-kV dead ends,” Swaney said.
“Our crews are definitely not accustomed to the conditions, specifically the heat and humidity, but they are acclimating and drinking a lot of water. Fortunately, water has been returned to full service so there are plenty of ways to stay hydrated,” he noted.
“Working in the Pacific Northwest, our crews are used to trees and limbs falling into lines and poles. In Guam, there isn’t as much damage due to trees, but rather weakened infrastructure and equipment due to the salt water that was damaged during the high winds of the typhoon,” he said.
On June 21, GPA noted that crews returned to service a crucial express transmission line between Piti and Harmon. This line brings back power from baseload units in Piti and Cabras to the Harmon Substation which distributes power to the populated areas in northern Guam.
This has strengthened and minimized the separation of the grid, which had occurred several times over the past two weeks.
The transmission line repairs are critical to support the current 80% system load and get GPA to 100% restoration.
Crews from Snohomish County PUD Washington started restoring the 115-KV express line from Piti to the Harmon substation over a week ago; the completed repairs to the transmission line bring reliability and redundancy to the grid.
GPA thanked the PUD crews “for their tireless effort, and hard work in restoring this express line.”
With the completion of repairs to this critical transmission line, “GPA does not anticipate needing to schedule rotating outages any longer as it had over the past week, unless an unforeseen emergency occurs. GPA line crews continue working mainly on distribution circuits restoring more and more customers back online,” it said.
PUD Operations personnel are working under the assumption that the crews will be in Guam until at least July 6, with a possible extension to help with remaining restoration efforts.