WASHINGTON, DC-Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Areas Tony Babauta recently announced $1,085,000 in grants to Guam agencies for sustainable energy projects under the Office of Insular Affairs's “Empowering Insular Communities” (EIC) grant program.
“Sustainable renewable energy development has been a priority for the Obama Administration and it is exciting that our partnership with Guam is making concrete steps to use indigenous sources for energy, as well as changing the dynamic of how the community thinks about energy usage,” said Babauta. “Members of the Guam Renewable Energy Committee, co-chaired by the University of Guam President Robert Underwood and Guam Energy Office Director Lorilee Crisostomo have met and worked closely with the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) over the past three years developing a road map for smart and sustainable energy usage, all the while keeping in mind what is achievable and practical” he added.
The grants are for four separate projects:
$180,000 to the Guam Department of Public Works (DPW) for a Vertical Sustainable Energy Project that will replace windows and doors with energy star-rated hardware at DPW buildings.
$150,000 to the Guam Energy Office for Better Buildings with Energy Code project. This project will be used by the Guam Energy Office to partner with a trades institution to develop energy code curriculum to train the building industry professionals about the new Guam Tropical Energy Code.
$250,000 to the General Services Agency for energy efficiency projects including rooftop solar panels, energy-efficient air-conditioners, windows, doors, lights, and the transformation of their roof to a “cool rooftop.”
$505,000 to the Guam Power Authority to install a 275kilowatt wind turbine in the Cotal area of Guam.
Energy security is critical to the insular areas' future economic development and sustainability. In 2010, OIA entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory to help develop long-term Strategic Energy Plans in American Samoa, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. In 2011, NREL provided the results of its initial energy efficiency and renewable energy assessments and a strategic plan for implementation and deployment. These four projects were identified in the Guam Strategic Energy Plan.
Last year, the University of Guam was awarded $900,000 in EIC grant funding to install rooftop solar arrays to reduce the University's reliance on fossil fuels by 2-5%. This will represent a significant cost-savings for the University and the government of Guam.
NREL's assistance has also helped the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to identify if geothermal energy is a potential source of renewable energy. The $500,000 in EIC funding that was granted to the CNMI in 2011 is being used to perform a geophysical survey in parallel with the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation's drilling of geothermal gradient holes. The geophysical survey will be useful in guiding geothermal gradient drilling and will shorten the time-table to exploration and development if results are favorable by facilitating the identification of exploration targets.
The American Samoa Power Authority plans to use Empowering Insular Communities funding for various energy efficiency and conservation projects, such as a recycling rebate program and prepaid meters, to reduce the territory's high energy costs and extend the useful life of the landfills in American Samoa.
Another Obama Administration initiative helped the American Samoa Power Authority complete the largest solar installation in the South Pacific. Using American Recovery and Reconstruction Act (ARRA) funding, a 1.75 megawatt solar power farm consisting of 7,308 solar panels were installed on a 4 acre site near the island's runway.