Report cites ASPA ‘non-revenue water’ — is above 60%

The cost of pumping this water exceeds $1.3 million a year

An interesting “existing vulnerability” cited in the assessment of American Samoa’s energy supply disruption is the over 60% loss in drinking water before it can be sold, and this means the territory is paying a high price for electricity to pump water that never brings in any revenue.

The comprehensive assessment report title ‘Addressing the Threat of Long-Term Energy Supply Disruption: A Strategic Energy Assurance Plan (EAP) for American Samoa’ was conducted by the U.S. based Westmoreland Associates.

“I was particularly surprised by the findings about the cost of energy to pump water that is never sold or even used productively,” David Schaller, the principal investigator for Westmoreland Associates told Samoa News last Friday via — email from Arizona.

“This could be a priority for the new administration and could help save significant money for the government and help reduce energy vulnerability in the territory,” he said.

In a separate letter earlier this month to Samoa News, which attached a copy of the more than 300 page report and exhibits, Schaller said among the significant inefficiencies in the way energy is used in the territory, which make other vulnerabilities even greater threats is that “over 60% loss in drinking water before it can be sold, meaning the territory is paying a very high price for electricity to pump water that never brings in any revenue.”

According to the report, potable water supply involves loss of waster due to leaks and other system inefficiencies. It also says that data collected through early 2011 by the American Samoa Power Authority staff “ suggest the difference between the amount of water pumped in ASPA’s system and the amount sold — known as ‘non-revenue water’ — is above 60%.”

“When considering the energy used to pump potable water each day, the cost of energy to pump the 61% of water that is lost exceeds $1.3 million a year,” the report pointed out.

The report went on to explain there are two methods which can be used to calculate the cost of energy being used to pump water that is never sold. One is the simple cost of fuel used to generate the kWh (kilowatt hour) for pumping. The second involves the more comprehensive per kWh rate charged to electricity customers which presumably captures more of ASPA’s total generation and delivery costs.

However, the report couldn’t actually pin-point the actual costs of energy being used to pump water that is never sold, but provides two scenarios or examples to calculate the total costs. It notes that the wholesale price for diesel fuel paid by ASPA is not known outside of the utility but it provides an estimation.

A third scenario used by Westmoreland is based on ASPA Ground Water Pumping Report for November 2010 that reported a daily of water-pumping energy demand of 22,739.92 kWh and a monthly demand of 682 MWh (megawatts per hour). The ASPA Report calculates a daily energy cost of $6,139.78 at an electricity rate of $0.27/kWh for that same month.

The ASPA Report extends this daily energy cost over a 12 month period and arrives at an annual energy cost for drinking water well field pumping of $2.24 million.

“The [ASPA] Report assumes a fixed energy cost of $0.27 kWh for a 12 months period,” said the Westmoreland report. “Using these energy cost numbers provided by the utility itself, a 61% loss of water translates to a financial loss of $1,366,900 per year...”

Westmoreland's report points out that ASPA electricity generating costs vary and those costs have risen since 2010 in proportion to increases in both global crude oil prices and thus ASPA’s own imported diesel fuel costs.

For much of 2011 and into mid 2012, these price increases have raised ASPA’s retail electricity rate to over $0.40 kWh.

“Using this more recent number and the same pumping energy amounts per month and a year as in the November 2010 Pumping Report, a 61% water loss equates to a financial loss of $1,996,896 over a 12 month period,” the assessment report states. “This represents the high-case estimate of the financial costs to the utility of not being able to sell water that it pays to pump.”

The report went on to say that known water losses include those from tank overflows during filling as well as piping leaks. 

“After backing out known losses, ASPA staff note that the system’s unknown/unlocated leaks still amount to about 18% of the water originally pumped,” it says. “In addition, most existing water storage tanks were built in the early 1970s and are deteriorating with time.”

Samoa News notes that ASPA has said in explaining its rising rates for electricity, water and solid waste that upgrading its deteriorating infrastructure is a major part of the increases.


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