U.S. To Develop Renewable Energy Action Plan For Insular Areas

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Interior Department to address needs of territories, freely associated states

By Fili Sagapolutele

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (The Samoa News, Dec. 21, 2014) – President Barack Obama signed Tuesday a federal measure, which includes provisions calling on the Interior Department to develop an action plan to address the renewable energy needs of insular areas and U.S. freely associated states.

Energy provisions for territories and freely associated states originated from the U.S. House as a stand-alone bill but was later included in the larger "Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015" in the U.S. Senate where it was approved.

According to the insular area provision, the Interior Secretary is to assemble a team of technical, policy, and financial experts to address the energy needs of these U.S. jurisdictions through the development of energy action plans aimed at promoting access to affordable, reliable energy, including increasing use of indigenous clean-energy resources.

According to a Congressional Budget Office report to the House, DOI currently spends $1.2 million annually to establish energy action plans for insular areas. Based on information from the agency, CBO expects that under this measure DOI would need to spend about $2 million more annually to hire additional staff to handle the increased technical support called for under the bill.

Thus, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would cost about $10 million over the 2014 - 2018 period, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, the report said.

The Interior Secretary has 180-days from the date the measure was signed into law to establish a team of technical, policy, and financial experts to - among other things - develop an energy action plan addressing the energy needs of each of the insular areas. And the team has one-year after its appointment to provide a report and recommendation to the Interior Secretary, who would then provide a summary report to Congress.

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