LBJ'S stand by generator good for just 5 days service

Assessment reports says emergency generating capacity at LBJ needs to be addressed

LBJ Medical Center, the only hospital in the territory, has limited emergency generating capacity and this vulnerability is an issue that both the federal and local governments need to address, according to a comprehensive assessment report for the territory, ‘Addressing the Threat of Long-Term Energy Supply Disruption’.

The report states that American Samoa’s only medical facility depends on electricity from the American Samoa Power Authority grid and in the event of a disruption to distribution lines, or the loss of generating capacity, “the hospital has limited emergency generating capability.”

According to the report, the medical center maintains a back-up diesel generator on site, and fuel to operate the generator is stored in a 6,000 gallon tank located on hospital grounds.

Should the feeder serving the hospital be interrupted, the hospital’s electrical load automatically shifts to the stand-by generator, which is designed to begin operating in less than five seconds whenever primary power goes out, according to the report, based on information provided by the LBJ maintenance department.

The generator “is the only source of power the hospital would have in the event of a complete and sustained power outage,” the report says. “If the on-site diesel storage tank is full and the hospital management strives to keep it always at full capacity, the 6,000 gallons of fuel would be sufficient to keep the stand-by generator operating for approximately five days.”

It also pointed out that the longest that the back up generator has been needed in the past was three days, after a cyclone destroyed power lines to the hospital.

“An important factor here is the ability of the hospital to meet payment requirements in order to maintain a full 6,000 gallon inventory,” the report says, and noted that fuel delivery for the hospital is under contract through one of the two suppliers on island.

Samoa News should point out that since the end of fiscal year 2011 — when ASG failed to pay all required subsidies — LBJ has been scrambling to meet financial needs, resulting in a $3 million loan from the Workmen’s Compensation Account and a hike in facility fees.

Also cited in the assessment report, is the fact that the hospital currently uses electrical power to heat water in two boilers, also providing steam to the medical center.

Additionally, a solar hot water pre-heating system has recently been installed to minimize the amount of electricity needed to heat water for critical uses, though grid electricity would still be required to heat water to the temperatures required by critical hospital needs.

The report notes that ASPA aims to maintain load to priority areas such as the drinking water well field pumps, the hospital and other critical customers whenever possible. And following the September 2009 tsunami, when the Satala power station was destroyed, ASPA began delivering electricity from the Tafuna power plant to the hospital.


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