Restoring the power supply in tsunami-ravaged American Samoa

In 2009, shortly after an 8.3-magnitude earthquake shook the Pacific, a powerful tsunami swept into Pago Pago in American Samoa, causing extensive damage. The tsunami completely disabled the local power plants and destroyed households. The damaged island and its residents were left to rebuild their lives. Immediate and long-term efforts were required to restore electricity to the affected island.

The tsunami-affected Satala power plant in Pago Pago experienced a loss of 23 MW of generation capacity, which accounted for 60 percent of the island’s load demand. While temporary power was brought in, a long-term strategy had to be developed to restore the island’s power infrastructure.

American Samoa Power Authority, with funding from the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), contracted Louis Berger to design and procure the diesel power generation equipment, as well as complete site development and plant construction through a design-build contract.

Louis Berger’s solution includes a power system design that substantially reduces fuel consumption compared to the previous power plant. The reduced fuel consumption will save millions of dollars annually in fuel costs and should reduce Pago Pago’s high cost of electricity.

The Satala plant is designed to withstand the challenges that American Samoa can present, including earthquakes, typhoons, flooding, high humidity and corrosive salt air. Other new features include the plant’s new higher elevation on engineered fill, an eight-foot flood wall with water-tight flood doors, and acoustic noise reduction measures. 

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