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Back Local News Controversy over Guam Tropical Energy Code continues

Controversy over Guam Tropical Energy Code continues

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GOV. Eddie Calvo yesterday vetoed Bill 61, the Guam Tropical Energy Code, days after controversy arose over statements made by the Guam Chamber of Commerce urging the governor not to enact the legislation.

Bill 61 provides legislative ratification of the 2012 Guam Tropical Energy Code, which sets a baseline for energy-efficiency that addresses the energy-efficiency requirements for the design, materials and equipment used in nearly all new constructions and renovations.

In his veto message, Calvo said Guam already has one of the nation’s strictest building codes, a public-safety necessity of living in a tropical climate frequented by typhoons.

He said adding to the development cost of complying with the existing code is the cost of shipping building materials to Guam.

“When these costs are factored together, I must be concerned that the requirements of Bill 61 will make construction costs even more prohibitive. We, the government, need to be engaged in encouraging construction technology that will make the Guamanian dream of owning your own home more achievable, and must seriously consider any addition to the initial cost of construction.”

Also missing is input from developers – the companies and individuals who have to shoulder the financial risk and the cost of building, the governor said.  He added that the council has received positive feedback from some developers, but no direct testimony in support of the bill was provided by any developers and only opposition was expressed.

Opposition

The Guam Chamber of Commerce, as represented by its chairman Peter Sgro, earlier expressed opposition to the bill and has even urged the governor to veto the legislation, citing potential cost increases associated with the change in the code resulting in probable increases for all new developments and building improvements.

Sen. Tom Ada, the author of Bill 61, responded strongly to the position expressed by the chamber, saying he was surprised and disappointed by the sudden change in its position. In a meeting at the chamber last week with the chairman of the Guam Building Code Council, the senator said Sgro had indicated he was supportive of the bill.

“Additionally, Mr. Sgro indicated the chamber would be writing to the governor to urge passage,” Ada said.

Sgro sent the following response to Ada’s charges: “It is necessary to respond to statements contained in your release that are not accurate.”

“I never indicated that I support the bill and I am certain that your records contain my own testimony opposing bills you introduced in 2010 for the very same reason the chamber does not support this bill. I never stated that I would encourage the chamber to write a letter to the governor to urge passage of your bill,” Sgro stated.

He added that no member of the chamber’s board of directors can take any position related to any bill, including the chairman of the board, without the vote and approval of the chamber’s board of directors

“The record will reflect that our board of directors voted to encourage veto of the bill based on certain facts, including non-compliance with the Administrative Adjudication Law. The legislative history related to the Administrative Adjudication Act clearly indicates an amendment that mandates that an economic impact statement be prepared prior to any rule change being transmitted to the Legislature,” the chamber chairman said.

Support

Despite the chamber’s opposition, a perusal of documents submitted to the Legislature indicate support from several key industry groups, including the Guam Renewable Energy Association which commended the introduction of the bill to help reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuel by adding the design requirements to achieve energy-efficiency in buildings constructed on island. GREA further stated that “the core foundation of energy independence should always start with energy-efficiency in any facility or building.”

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers on Guam also supported Bill 61, stating they have reviewed the provisions of the code and “feel that the adoption of the code is important.”

The adoption of the code, the group noted, “shows that the people of Guam are forward-thinking and recognize the need to sensibly reduce the island’s current and future energy consumption.”

Likewise, the American Institute of Architects Guam and Micronesia Chapter said buildings account for approximately 30 percent of overall energy consumption.

“The implementation of the Guam Tropical Energy Code is a means to improving the quality of life on Guam. It is a fundamental step in the development of better buildings that support our daily activities and our need for comfort while simultaneously reducing energy consumption and helping the environment. The passage of Bill 61 into law will have a lasting positive impact on the lives of current and future generations of Guamanians,” the group stated.

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