U.S. Interior Department Approves $3.5 Million For Renewable Energy In Territories

U.S. Department of the Interior
Whitefish, MT

June 29, 2017

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke informed American Samoa Gov. Lolo Moliga, Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Gov. Ralph Torres that he has approved a total of $3,489,427 in energy grants for their respective territories.

The secretary and the governors were attending the Western Governors Association meeting in Montana. In addition the secretary announced energy grants for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

American Samoa will receive $1,163,228, Guam $1,072,827, the Northern Mariana Islands $658,692, and the U.S. Virgin Islands $594,680 for a variety of projects across the territories that will create immediate energy efficiencies, reduce high costs of fossil-fuel dependency, and explore other alternatives towards energy self-sufficiency.

“We recognize that the cost of electricity in the U.S. territories is three times higher, on average, than the U.S. national average,” said Secretary Zinke. “The energy needs of the territories are unique and I am pleased to help bring them into focus as President Trump highlights energy strategies across America during Energy Week.”

Thirty-four applications, totaling more than $18 million dollars, were submitted for consideration to the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs. The Empowering Island Communities grant funding as provided annually by the U.S. Congress is about $3 million.

Because the USVI is not a member of the Western Governors Association, Gov. Kenneth Mapp did not attend the meeting. However, the secretary did travel to the USVI for its Centennial Commemoration in March where he met with the governor and is scheduled to meet him again sometime in July.

The CNMI will receive $658,692 for two projects:

• $489,807 for Northern Marianas College to install roof-mounted photovoltaic or PV systems (139 kW size) on three campus buildings, reducing energy costs and dependence on fossil fuels. The PV systems will be installed on three buildings that have been demonstrated to take up 30 percent of the college’s energy consumption. NMC expects to realize an annual cost savings of $37,764 at an estimated 70 percent reduction in energy costs for the three buildings. This proposal is identified and supported in the CNMI strategic energy plan.

• $168,885 to the CNMI government to acquire professional expertise and create a feasibility study on the potential for extraction of methane gas from the Marpi Landfill and the Eloy S. Inos Peace Park, formerly known as the Puerto Rico dump on Saipan. The study will be used to quantify the approximate amount of gas produced and the amount to be extracted over time, and provide a database for future reference, providing CNMI leaders with viable information and a cost-benefit analysis to determine the advantage of potentially using methane biogas fuel to reduce reliance on imported fuel.

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After all these decades, citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia have yet to see alternative energy funding from this country. Despite their agreement states: “The Government of the United States shall make available to the Federated States of Micronesia alternate energy development projects.” (US-FSM Compact, as Amended. Title 2 Article 2 Section 221.(e))

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