After devastating wildfires left communities across Maui without electricity, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Temporary Power Team arrived on the island to begin the important work of restoring power to critical facilities.
Following natural disasters, temporary emergency power teams-comprised of trained USACE personnel -can be quickly deployed to assist with assessments, maintenance, and generator installations at critical facilities, such as hospitals, wastewater treatment plants, and fire and police stations.
At the request of FEMA, Honolulu District's temporary emergency power team deployed to provide support to Maui County and the State of Hawai'i.
As part of the FEMA mission assignment, the team installed 20 generators at critical public facilities across Maui. Now, 40 days later, the need for temporary power continues to decrease and the mission is powering down.
"There are currently only 13 generators left in the field," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Maksym Zymin, power mission commander. "Five are still running to provide power to essential services and another eight have been installed at critical facilities as a backup where the utility power was unreliable."
Although nearing completion, this is the point in the mission that often gets overlooked as there are still behind-the-scenes requirements such as service and maintenance, inspections, and inventory of generators that must be completed.
"Once we know that we're getting close to the end of the power mission, we prepare the generators, inspect them, inventory them, and then, at the conclusion, they are signed back over to FEMA," said Zymin.
The power team is currently a nine-member team and will see the mission through to completion.
"We ensure all of the generators are properly maintained and continuing to operate efficiently," he said. "We are also required to perform service and maintenance on each generator before it is returned back to FEMA."
If a generator has more than 97 hours of service on it, then load bank testing must be performed.
Load bank testing involves connecting the generator to a load bank-a special machine that imitates the electrical demands that would be placed on the system-and running the generator at full capacity for more than two hours.
"During the load bank test, they are monitoring the parameters to ensure they stay within the normal operating range," said Zymin.
"If the generator is not able to run or it fails, then they will troubleshoot it, identify the cause, repair it, and retest it again," he said. "Basically, we want to make sure the generator operates as required and identify any issues that may need to be fixed or remedied before turnover."
If no issues are identified during the tests, the generator is deemed fully mission capable and can be returned to FEMA.
Once all 20 generators are returned, the power team will pack up and return home.
"The team is honored to be part of the disaster response and being able to contribute to helping people of Maui during such a tragic and critical time," said Zymin.