CHCC board approves $900K solar power project


The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. board of trustees approved last week the first phase of a solar power project that would make the hospital less reliant on non-renewable energy.

The project is worth $903,301 and will allow the Commonwealth Health Center to produce 160 kilowatts of its own power from solar panels that will be erected on the south side of the hospital’s parking lot.

CHCC program director Warren Villagomez said they have awarded the contract to build Phase 1 of the solar power project to Micronesia Renewable Energy, Inc.-CNMI. MRE beat two other companies for the contract.

“Micronesia Renewable Energy was identified as the most responsive based on our specifications provided and guided by U.S. Public Health Service Corp and [National Renewable Energy Laboratory]. The company’s background and credibility is very strong,” he told board members during a board meeting last March 7 at the CHCC conference room.

Villagomez said that, once CHCC implements its solar power project, it would have one of only a handful of buildings in the region to tap into the renewable resource for its energy needs.

He said the Guam Memorial Hospital emergency room just finished their solar power project and the Palau hospital and airport also have solar power panels installed in their structures.

The first phase of CHCC’s solar power project will be partially funded by a $560,000 grant provided by the Department of the Interior, according to CHCC CEO Esther Muña.

That leaves CHCC short of $342,301, which the CHCC board members temporarily agreed to source from the fiscal year 2019 budget request from the Legislature.

Board member William Cing said that Muña and Villagomez should also look into Capital Improvement Project funds to bridge the shortfall.

Aside from CIP monies, Muña has also approached the Division of Energy if they can help fund the project.

“[Let’s] put [the shortfall] in the budget [request] so the [Legislature] will know what we’re asking for. They’ll know that we have a plan. If there’s funding, then we can use that money… We need a safety net,” said Cing.

CHCC chief financial officer Derek Sasamoto also suggested that the hospital tap its uncompensated care request for the fiscal year 2019 budget to finance the power project.

In CHCC’s $29.8-million budget request for fiscal year 2019, $15,555,006 is under uncompensated care.

In the end, all board members approved to include the $342,301 needed to complete Phase 1 of the solar power project in the fiscal year 2019 budget.

“[We] approved it but with the condition that we will continue to work with CIP or the Division of Energy to look for additional funding for Phase 1,” said board member David Rosario.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at

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