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12 23Thu10302014

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Back Local News Renewable power for schools urged

Renewable power for schools urged

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THE Guam Department of Education’s energy woes may be addressed by a bill allowing them to enter into a public-private renewable energy purchase agreement with a qualified provider – a partnership that could also potentially generate millions of savings for the department.

During the public hearing convened for Bill 74 yesterday, William Hagen of Pacific Solar & Photovoltaics Inc. said in his testimony that if passed, the measure will go a long way toward helping the Guam Power Authority meet its mandated goals while simultaneously saving the school system millions of dollars now and in the future.

Speaker Judith Won Pat and Sens. Aline Yamashita and Tina Muña-Barnes introduced the measure, which allows GDOE to enter into a renewable energy purchase agreement for a term of up to 25 years. As proposed by the bill, the selected renewable energy provider shall be responsible for all costs required to install and maintain such renewable energy technology at GDOE schools and facilities.

After conducting preliminary measurements at the George Washington High School in Mangilao, Hagen believes the campus alone could produce more than 1 million kilowatt hours (kwh) of renewable energy per year on their multiple roofs – an equivalent of 137 homes consuming 1,000 kwh per month.

The savings could be as high as $100,000 the first year, with cumulative savings of $12 million over 25 years.

“This system would be nine times larger than the one at St. Francis School in Yoña. Also, if GW were allowed to max out their roof with photovoltaic modules, Guam would save $343,000 in foreign fossil fuel payments the first year,” Hagen said.

However, he also said it is necessary to remove the size limitations on all net metering systems to allow for the aggregation of meter readings for a single customer, “so renewable energy would blossom on the island.”

Current law restricts the size of net metering facilities connected to GPA’s grid at 25 kw for residential and 100 kw for non-residential, and also prohibits a net metering customer from aggregating their meter readings.

Concerns

John M. Benavente, general manager of Consolidated Utility Services, said the CUS supports net metering projects as established by law, which are projects similar to those proposed in the bill.

However, he also said the legislation needs to be clear on the Guam procurement laws and regulations which apply to the transaction.

He also suggested having a threshold, wherein the transaction is only feasible if the purchase price of solar is less than 80 percent of GPA’s existing rates.

“GPA is constantly seeking opportunities to lower costs and it would be unfortunate if GPA’s costs were lowered and Guam taxpayers were burdened with higher costs than those charged by GPA,” Benavente said in his testimony.

CUS believes that within 90 days from the implementation of the new program, GDOE should provide a comprehensive report detailing the amounts paid to GPA, the amounts paid to the private provider, and the amounts saved on behalf of the taxpayers on Guam.

“This report should be provided to the Guam Legislature and GPA to help us make better informed decisions regarding future renewable energy projects,” he said.

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