PALAU ADOPTS NATIONAL ENERGY POLICY

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Targets conservation to reduce consumption

By Maripet L. Poso KOROR (Palau Horizon, Sept. 1, 2010) - Palau adopted last week an official National Energy Policy that will provide a clear direction on the future of Palau’s energy sector, as well as a road map for a greener and less vulnerable energy future for the country.

The policy target is set at a 30 percent reduction in overall national energy consumption by 2020. The Palau Energy Office will be upgraded to Division or Bureau Standard and will focus on work related to policy, regulation, knowledge management and sector planning. The government will revise taxes and policies to encourage the import and sale of the most energy-efficient appliances and vehicles available, and develop energy efficiency standards for new buildings.

In a House Joint Resolution, the Eight Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) adopted the Palau Draft Energy Policy, created by the Palau Energy Policy Development Working Group, as the official Energy Policy of Palau.

In October last year, a group of experts involving more than 30 public and private sector agencies, representing the Office of the President, the Office of Environmental Response and Coordination, the Palau Energy Office, the OEK, Palau Public Utilities Corporation, several Ministries and local businesses and organizations, developed the Draft National Energy Policy for Palau. After almost a year, it has been adopted by the OEK as the official Energy Policy of the country.

"It was a one-week exercise," Greg Decherong, Director of Palau Energy Office, said in an interview. "After we have drafted it, we submitted it to the Office of the President for approval. He just signed it on Thursday."

Acording to Decherong, this National Energy Policy sets out the government’s policy vision for the energy sector.

"The policy forms the basis for a strategic action plan, which provides detailed implementation guidelines to ensure that the policy vision becomes a reality," Decherong said.

He added that the policy also provides guidance for unified energy sector management and establish the foundation for Palau’s energy future. "The vision is for a reliable and resilient energy sector delivering Palau sustainable, low emissions energy services," Decherong explained. "This strategic action plan provides a road map for a greener and less vulnerable energy future for Palau."

Decherong said Palau will be able to do it by providing clear direction on the future of Palau’s energy sector, providing appropriate regulation to securely deliver energy services a competitive prices, maximizing cost-effective energy while safeguarding the environment, promoting environmentally sustainable energy technologies with the aim to substitute imported fossil fuels, and supporting consumers through the transition towards a new energy sector.

Recognizing the cost of total national dependence on imported petroleum fuels, international standards will be developed and enforced for storage, handling and transport of petroleum products. Laws will also be introduced to ensure security, reliability and efficiency of electricity supply. Private sector participation in electricity supply will also be encouraged through a transparent enabling framework.

According to Decherong, the adoption of an official energy policy for Palau will enable consistent effective planning for Palau’s energy usage and development while facilitating foreign investment and aid to our energy sector.

Decherong said he feels very good that the Draft has finally become the official Energy Policy of the country. "It is a road map that Palau needs, and it is a document needed by donor governments and international organizations like European Union, UNDB, even the Taiwanese and Japanese governments. We need to have an official strategy in the country, and this is it."

He added that the Pacific Island Forum wants each country to have its own policy. Palau is among the first countries in the Pacific to have its own energy policy.

"Last week I have received queries from the government of Tonga," Decherong said. "They are trying to come up with their very own policy, so they want our assistance."

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