Guam Waste-To-Energy Plant Would Be More Costly Than Solar

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Company: Facility would cost 10 times as much as solar farm

By Jasmine Stole

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety, Sept. 9, 2015) – Guam Resource Recovery Partners estimate that the construction of their proposed waste-to-energy or WTE facility would be between $200 million and $250 million, considerably more than it would cost to construct a solar farm that could generate the same amount of energy.

Dave Sablan, GRRP project coordinator, said that 350 tons of waste could generate eight to 10 megawatts of energy through the proposed waste-to-energy facility. Sablan said he believes that there’s more than 300 tons of waste generated daily, considering the waste that accumulates at many illegal dumpsites on Guam.

A solar farm that would generate about 10 megawatts of power could be built on Guam for about $25 million, said Joe Rosario, business development and marketing director.

"With solar there’s no moving parts," Rosario said. "It’s 100 percent safe and 100 percent environmentally friendly."

The WTE plant GRRP is proposing would first need to be cleared by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency because of the air emissions from the incinerator, Sablan said. He said 60 percent of costs are for regulatory procedures so that the plant will be in compliance with environmental standards.

Unlike solar farms, burning waste produces air emissions, including nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, mercury compounds and dioxins, according to a U.S. EPA fact sheet. While an incinerator would reduce the creation of new landfills, U.S. EPA notes that the ash from the WTE plant may contain toxic residue and must be tested regularly to prevent toxic substances from migrating into ground water supply.

Sablan said the WTE plant could last years if parts and equipment are properly maintained. Rosario said solar panels now have a warranty of about 30 years and even with annual degradation on a panel of about 0.5 percent each year, solar panels can operate at 80 percent efficiency 20 years from initial installation.

"Keep in mind that $25 million is something that (Guam Power Authority) would not shoulder," Rosario also said.

GPA is currently working with with NRG Energy, which operates the solar farm in Dandan. Art Perez, GPA communications manager, said GPA and NRG’s contract is for 20 years and NRG is supplying 25 MW of energy to GPA.

The company installing a solar farm would maintain the farm and shoulder the cost of construction and would sell the energy to GPA at a per kilowatt hour rate under Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause rate, Rosario said.

GPA and GRRP have not entered into a contract with respect to the sale of electricity, Sablan said and GRRP and GPA have not yet discussed the sale of electricity. Sablan said with the signing of the settlement agreement, he expected the governor to discuss the economics of the WTE plant with other agencies in the government.

In July, Gov. Eddie Calvo signed a settlement agreement between Guam Economic Development Authority and GRRP. According to the governor’s office and GEDA, the signed settlement agreement does not mean anything has changed and that there is no contract for a WTE plant. However, GRRP contends that the governor was more open to negotiations related to the WTE plant and the front office and GRRP worked together to

GEDA officials said the next step is for the transmittal of the bill to the legislature. The bill would be drafted by GRRP and GEDA and proposes repealing the law banning incinerators. Sablan said this would remove legal parameters of operating a WTE plant on island. The bill has not yet been drafted and transmitted to senators yet, according to GEDA.

A bill introduced last December that would allow GRRP to move forward with the WTE plant was met with a lot of backlash from the public.

Ken Leon Guerrero, Santa Rita resident and opponent of GRRP’s proposed WTE plant, said this time around, he does not expect politicians to make moves in favor of a waste to energy facility while the spotlight is on them to make a decision. " "

Opponents to GRRP’s proposed WTE plant have said that the service contract dictates that the government of Guam would bear much of the cost for the incinerator.

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