WASHINGTON, D.C.—Acting Interior assistant secretary for Insular Areas Nikolao Pula made available this week $380,447 in maintenance assistance funding from the Office of Insular Affairs to support two regional initiatives and one local initiative that support and bolster capacity for the power utilities in all main islands of the Pacific U.S. insular areas.
“Electrical power is costly for residents in the territories and freely associated states,” said Pula. “We do all we can to help them keep costs down through building local capacity and facilitating collaboration of ideas and expertise.”
The projects funded from fiscal year 2017 OIA Maintenance Assistance Funds are as follow:
Pacific Linemen Training Program ($224,000) for the Yap State Public Service Corp. to provide 28 weeks of advanced professional certification training to 80 power linemen, a collaboration of power authorities from six insular areas: American Samoa, Guam, Majuro, Palau, Pohnpei, and Yap. Training this year will be especially critical for American Samoa, Palau, and Pohnpei who are experiencing severe shortages of qualified power linemen due to attrition and retirement. The training will include disaster planning workshops to help the islands recover more quickly from storms. For the past three years, power linemen trained in this program have been assisting power utilities on Chuuk, Ulithi, and Saipan deal with repairs and recovery efforts following typhoons Maysak and Soudelor.
Pacific Power Association ($36,447) to fund the participation of 10 technical engineers from power utilities in the Pacific region at the 26thAnnual Conference of the Pacific Power Association to discuss regional benchmarking, renewable energy resource mapping and integration, and disaster risk reduction initiatives. Participants to the conference will come from American Samoa, Guam, Yap, Kwajalein, Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Majuro, Saipan, and Palau and will match dollar for dollar the cost of their participation.
Professional Training and Apprenticeship Program ($120,000) is provided to the American Samoa Power Authority to build and develop local engineers and technical personnel critical to the operations and continued success of the American Samoa Power Authority. Funding for the current year is being matched 2 to 1 by ASPA and will fund 17 apprentices, including three power system engineers, two energy technology engineers, two water/wastewater civil engineers, six photovoltaic system technicians, and four electronic meter technicians. This is the fourth and final year of the program, with $370,000 provided in prior years beginning in fiscal year 2014. (PR)