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Studies under way to gauge waste volume

By Fili Sagapolutele APIA, Samoa (Samoalive News, Aug. 25, 2010) – The American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) is forging ahead with renewable energy projects, especially the Waste to Energy (WTE) project, with the goal to lessen dependency on fossil fuel and provide a clean air environment.

Questions have been raised in the past by both the general public and lawmakers on what ASPA is doing to lessen the dependency on imported diesel fuel to operate its generators, which means cutting down on fuel costs. Additionally, what are ASPA’s renewable projects?

Renewable energy projects are one of the subjects expected to be raised in today’s hearing by the Senate ASPA/TEO Committee chair Sen. Velega Savali Jr., who scheduled the hearing on various ASPA issues, including renewable energy, based on a call last week by Sen. Mauga T. Asuega.

In its second quarterly report for fiscal year 2010, submitted to the House and Senate committees on ASPA, the semi autonomous agency says that to lessen the dependence on fossil fuel and to promote a clean environment, this Waste to Energy (WTE) project "is a critical renewable energy effort of ASPA and American Samoa."

With the Department of Interior Technical Assistance funds awarded to the American Samoa Government, ASPA says it was able to contract a qualified firm to conduct a waste composition study. ASPA has completed the Waste Stream Study by Virginia-based Stearns, Conrad and Schmidt Consulting Engineers, Inc.

"The purpose of the Waste Stream Study approach was to quantify and characterize the waste," said ASPA. "The end result of the study is the assessment that the waste stream will be able to support a 2 MW (megawatts) facility."

ASPA says it plans to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for Equipment capacity and Facility design, construction and operations of the WTE facility.

According to ASPA, this is similar to Hawaii’s H-Power facility located in Kapolei, on the island of Oahu, in Hawaii. In many facilities, trash is loaded directly into the furnaces. In other facilities, solid waste materials are sorted and the trash is processed and shredded to produce a fuel before putting it into the boilers.

All of the Waste to Energy facility options utilize combustion, where high temperature combustion completely destroys viruses, bacteria, rotting food, and other organic compounds found in household garbage that could potentially impact human health.

ASPA will comply with federal standards set by USEPA for these facilities, according to the report.

"The… WTE project will also result in reducing the waste stream to existing landfill. It will also delay the need for site investigations and design for another Landfill Expansion, and keep existing operations at a minimum cost," according to the ASPA report.

"Once completed, ASPA will generate electricity from the waste and lessen our dependence on fossil fuel, reduce operational costs, and lessen the cost of power to the community."

In the 3rd quarter report -- also provided to the Fono last week -- ASPA says a preliminary draft RFP- scope of work ‘Technical description’ for the WTE project has been prepared.

According to the report an ASPA team has yet to schedule a conference call with manufacturers or suppliers. Some of the team members visited the landfill and suggested that "we need to re-compile latest data on the volume of solid waste materials going into the landfill," said the ASPA report.

ASPA says it has secured funding for the "solar hot water system" for Tafuna High School from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to install three solar powered (3) hot water systems at the Tualauta county high school. Estimated cost of the project stands at $67,000.

Tafuna High School currently has one 80-gallon electric water heater serving their cafeteria; yet does not have sufficient capacity to meet the demand, the report says.

The proposed project will install three (3) 80-gallon solar hot water heaters: one to supply water to the cafeteria; one to supply water to the two science labs; and, one installed in the gymnasium to supply hot water to the 14 showers and two whirlpool baths, ASPA explains.

Through this grant application, ASPA will measure solar hot water heater system performance and then advise its customers of installation costs in addition to the economic analysis based on real data collected and measured. ASPA will also share with its customers the importance of renewable energy and the fact that solar heating system saves energy, reduces utility costs, and produces clean energy.

One of the benefits of the project, says ASPA, is that it will collect data on solar hot water systems, and monitor electric usage on the electricity monthly bill.

ASPA said it also secured funding to install a 50-kilowatt wind turbine on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Observatory site located at Cape Matatula of Tula village. This joint partnership with NOAA, ASEPA, USEPA and ASPA "will demonstrate American Samoa’s serious commitment to projects that will harness renewable sources of energy," the report says.

"In addition to creating jobs, diversifying our local economy, and promoting a safe and clean environment, our commitment to pursue renewable sources of energy will open many opportunities for more federal funds," according to the report, which added, "Both NOAA and ASPA quickly realized the benefits of joint partnership."

ASPA can benefit by carrying out NOAA’s preliminary work regarding site feasibility, turbine selection, site selection, and installation methods. ASPA staff will become familiar with equipment and installation and operation of a wind asset, the report notes.

ASPA says it intends to use the installation as a model for other locations in Tutuila, Aunu’u, Manu’a and Swains Island. "It would also demonstrate ASPA’s commitment to renewable energy for American Samoa and be the first commercial-scale wind turbine on island," the report notes.

In partnership with NOAA, ASPA intends to provide equipment and labor to install the wind turbine at the NOAA site at no cost to NOAA, which potentially saves NOAA thousands of dollars from contracting a firm to install the equipment at the remote observatory site.

"The wind turbine will be owned by ASPA and connected to the ASPA grid," the report says.

According to ASPA, benefits of this project include a gathering of the collected data on Wind Turbines and monitoring the NOAA station’s electrical usage on its electricity bill.

Additionally, NOAA and ASPA will monitor the data for a period of time, and this will be baseline data available for future wind projects.

Due to the consistent rise in electric costs, NOAA was motivated to seriously consider wind as an alternative source of energy, in addition to the photovoltaic (6kW) panels currently offsetting approximately 10 percent of NOAA’s electric consumption.

Samoa News will report in tomorrow’s edition other renewable energy projects which are part of ASPA’s report on funds received under the federal ARRA -- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

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