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News | Jan. 8, 2018

USACE Quality Assurance checks help keep temporary emergency generators running strong in Puerto Rico

By Codi Kozacek

Shelby Deal leans over a generator hooked up to a water pump station on the side of a twisting mountain road in central Puerto Rico. He notes the generator’s barcode and transponder number, inspects its oil and fuel filters, checks the fuel gauge, and records the number of hours the generator has operated. Finally, he assesses the surrounding area to make sure the grounding wire is properly flagged, the generator is level and no wires present a tripping hazard. 

“You check to make sure you don’t have any oil spills, that nothing looks wrong, and no screws or anything are loosened,” said Deal, a quality assurance specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ temporary emergency power mission in Puerto Rico. 

The USACE temporary emergency power mission installs temporary generators at critical public facilities as directed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Facilities covered in the temporary emergency power mission include: life-saving facilities, such as 911 centers, medical facilities, police and fire stations; life-sustaining facilities, such as water and wastewater treatment and pumping facilities; and additional municipal facilities to reinstitute local command and control and post-event recovery. 

In Puerto Rico, the quality assurance checks performed by USACE personnel are helping keep the fleet of temporary emergency power generators running across the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Since the hurricane, more than 1,200 temporary emergency power generator installations have been completed as part of the USACE temporary emergency power mission. The total number of installations includes: 

1) Temporary emergency generators that remain installed at facilities. As of Jan. 5, Approximately 980 generators remain installed across Puerto Rico. 

2) Temporary emergency generators that have since been permanently de-installed. As of Jan. 5, more than 100 generators have been permanently de-installed. Permanent de-installations occur at the direction of FEMA after grid power has been reestablished at a facility. De-installations allow generators to be moved to additional sites that remain without grid power. 

3) Multiple temporary emergency generator installations at a single facility. For example, if a previously installed generator needs to be replaced, crews de-install the initial generator and install another generator in its place. Each of those installations is counted toward the total number of generator installations performed. 

“We are continuing to install generators at critical public facilities and maintaining the generators that are already installed,” said Jennifer Harty, the USACE mission liaison for the temporary emergency power mission. “We expect as grid power returns we will switch from install to de-install mode.”

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website.