GPA SIGNS 25-YEAR CONTRACT FOR SOLAR FARM
The Guam Power Authority signed a 25 year contract with Quantum Guam Power for a solar farm at a signing ceremony at GPA headquarters yesterday. It is the first renewable energy contract GPA has signed.
The project costs about $95 million and will be located near the Layon Landfill in Inarajan. The solar farm will harness the energy from the sun through solar photovoltaic cells. It will produce about 20 megawatts a year, enough to power 1,700 homes. The 25-year contract has terms that guarantee energy production and a fixed price per contract year.
Public Utilities Chairman Simon Sanchez said it was the first big step for renewable energy on Guam.
“We’re using an energy source that will always be here,” Sanchez said.
He said instead of sending money off island to fuel refineries in Singapore for oil to run GPA power plants, the money saved through the solar farm project will stay on Guam.
“There’s about $300 million dollars leaving Guam every year,” Sanchez said of GPA’s annual purchase of fossil fuel. With solar, part of that money can be going to the local economy, he added.
Consolidated Utility Services General Manager John Benavente said this could create jobs for local residents.
“This is monumental since we can convert (what would otherwise be spent on oil) into jobs,” Benavente said.
GPA General Manager Joaquin Flores said it took more than a year to finalize the contract.
“We are here today and this really will make Guam a better place,” Flores said.
The new solar farm would help stimulate the economy, Flores said.
Flores and Quantum Guam Power Chief Development Officer Dirk Straussfeld signed the contract, as their audience applauded. After the ceremony, Sanchez said the project wouldn’t reduce the price of power right away, but in the long term, it will help keep costs down.
“This is guaranteed energy at a fixed price unlike oil, which can go up at anytime,” Sanchez said.
There will be other solar power projects in the future and wind power projects as well, he said.
The utility’s goal is to have 5 percent of power coming from renewable energy within five years. The long-term aim is to have 20 percent renewable.
Public law has set goals for 8 percent of net sales to come from renewable energy by 2020, 10 percent by 2025, and 25 percent by 2035, Pacific Daily News files show.
Flores explained that the move to renewable energy only made sense since many other utilities have other energy sources.
“There were financial issues in regards to our lenders. There were concerns that we are totally reliant on fossil fuels, but now we’re moving forward,” Flores said.
Straussfeld said his company has much experience in renewable energy and will be a great partner with GPA.
“We come with the know-how and our business is based on working with utilities providing this service,” Straussfeld said.
The company won the bid last May and has gone through a long process to get the 25-year contract right for both parties.
“We wanted to make sure that everyone is committed,” Straussfeld said.