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KIUC approves $1.7 million overhaul of Kapaia engine

The Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors yesterday approved $1.7 million for a major overhaul to the Kapaia Power Station’s engine, which is the largest on-island with 27.5 megawatts of generating capacity.

Ken Daubert, Kapaia station supervisor, told the board that the scheduled repairs are needed to keep the unit at the level of efficiency and reliability on which the co-op depends.

KIUC staff received bids for the work from five companies and has decided to go with the second lowest bidder, MTU Aero Engines in Germany.

Production Manager Brad Rockwell said the company was selected because it offered the best turnaround time and the stiffest penalty for exceeding the timeframe, with a $4,400 per day deduction.

The engine will be removed for the overhaul and shipped off for repairs; a loaner engine will be installed for the duration through a lease program with General Electric.

The work is expected to take about three months.

“Then we should be good to go for another 50,000 hours,” Daubert said.

Funds for the overhaul have already been set aside, but the board’s approval was necessary for staff to pursue an agreement with MTU.

Also yesterday, Rockwell told the board that another engine overhaul — this one at the Port Allen power plant — would cost less than half of the previously budgeted amount.

The expenditure is down to $1.6 million now that KIUC has opted to replace a rotor on KIUC’s third-largest engine, the GT-1, with a refurbished part instead of a new one.

Last month the board approved up to $3.95 million for the repairs, which included an estimated $2.2 million for a new rotor. The move was prompted by a recommendation from the engine’s maker that rotors be replaced after 5,000 starts; KIUC’s unit is approaching 6,000 starts.

The board approved Rockwell’s request to proceed with a purchase order for $1.6 million. The overhaul is expected to take place in spring 2009.

A warranty will guarantee the used rotor for one year.

The GT-1 has 17.5 megawatts of generating capacity. It was last overhauled in 1989.

Once completed, the overhaul will extend the unit’s life by another 100,000 hours, or 20 years, Rockwell said.

Green progress

KIUC President and CEO Randy Hee said the co-op has been busy in August and September pursuing potential renewable projects.

Discussions are continuing with Kekaha lessees regarding land access for a renewable energy farm, with all signs pointing to solar.

Hee said there are additional talks about solar in Koloa.

As for Gay & Robinson’s recent announcement that it plans to exit the sugar industry, Hee said he’s optimistic that the company plans to install another hydroelectric unit that will provide the co-op with renewable power. In addition, KIUC plans to continue talks with Pacific West Energy LLC about its intent to convert the sugar infrastructure into an ethanol plant and sell energy from burning bagasse to the co-op.

“We are anticipating talks with both entities,” Hee told the board.

Fuel prices, rates declining

Fuel prices for October continue to decline following an all-time peak in August.

Diesel rates are $3.38 per gallon for October, a 21 percent drop over the August rate of $4.30.

Naptha is $2.63 per gallon for October, a 23 percent drop from the August rate of $3.41.

Hee said he expects the drop in October fuel prices to translate to further decreases in effective member rates. The September residential effective rate, the most recent available, is 44 cents per kilowatt hour, a decrease over the co-op’s highest recorded rate of $0.49 in August.

This month’s rate was also lower than the July rate by about 3 cents per kilowatt hour.

Scheduled outage

A scheduled power outage will take place early Thursday at about 1 a.m., affecting Hanalei town to Waikoko and Princeville.

The outage will last for approximately one hour and will enable KIUC crews to replace a transmission line switch in Hanalei Valley. During the outage, electricity will be supplied by Kaua‘i Coffee Co. to Wainiha and Ha‘ena.

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