GUAM TAKES WORTHY FIRST STEP AWAY FROM OIL ENERGY

Editorial

Marianas Business Journal

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Oct. 24, 2011) – The first major attempt to discuss the development of alternative energy sources on Guam was made in 2006, when then-Sen. Jesse A. Lujan introduced a bill that would offer incentives to companies that would engage in such projects on island.

Somehow, the hundreds-of-pages bill got entangled in a political labyrinth. At the same time, the Guam Power Authority (GPA) and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities opposed the bill, saying many of its provisions were inconsistent with GPA's Integrated Resource Plan. The bill was eventually shelved.

In the 29th Guam Legislature, the issue was resurrected by Sen. Vicente "Ben" Pangelinan, who introduced a less controversial version of the bill that "required GPA to diversify its sources of power production with the development of renewable energy production and decrease total reliance on oil for electricity production."

It was, of course, a statement of the obvious. This issue doesn't even need to be politicized.

Guam has many compelling reasons to become serious about promoting renewable energy on island.

GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores says GPA spends US$300 million a year on fuel purchase. The fuel cost is ultimately shouldered by the ratepayers, who just in August had to bear another round of increase in the fuel surcharge. The spiralling cost of fuel is hurting every resident on Guam.

Within the last two years, Guam has been visited by offshore investors who see Guam as a gold mine for green technology and renewable energy investments. Such interest promises 21st-century jobs for Guam, giving another compelling reason for our leaders to push ahead with the goal. There is no turning back. Renewable energy is the way of the future. Fortunately, things are beginning to turn around. GPA has finally awarded the renewal energy contracts that officials say will produce 1.4 million megawatt-hours power from solar and wind sources in 25 years - from 2013 to 2038.

The US$293.6 million in contracts have been awarded to Quantum Guam Power and Pacific Green Resources LLC, to develop solar power facility and wind farm, respectively.

It might take a while to see the completion of these projects; there could be bumps in the road ahead. But just the same, the awarding of the contracts brings us one step closer toward our goal of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels - and eventually seeing reduced power bills.

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