Kagman farmers soon to be off grid


Gov. Ralph DLG Torres leads the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kagman Agricultural Water Well Photovoltaic Solar Power System facility yesterday at the Division of Agriculture’s station near Kagman. (Jon Perez)

Kagman farmers will soon be enjoying uninterrupted power and water supply after the Kagman Agricultural Water Well Photovoltaic Solar Power System facility broke ground yesterday at the Division of Agriculture’s station at the eastern side of the island.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres led the groundbreaking ceremony and he was joined by Lands and Natural Resources Secretary Anthony T. Benavente, Office of Grants Management administrator Epi Cabrera, OGM and State Clearinghouse grants specialist Frankie F. Angel, Saipan and Northern Islands Soil and Water Conversation chair Dr. Ignacio Dela Cruz, and other Cabinet and elected officials.

The project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior under its Energizing Insular Communities Grant Program, cost around $298,000 and was awarded to Micronesia Renewable Energy Inc., represented by vice president Jeff Voacolo. The total grant was around $330,167.

Torres congratulated Cabrera and his team at OGM for seeking out the project’s fund grants. “$300,000 is a lot of money, yet I know we still have a long way to go but this is definitely the first step for us.”

“I want to acknowledge Dr. Dela Cruz as the newly appointed chair of the [Saipan] Farmers Association and the [SNISWC]. Our office is here to assist you. It is indeed a remarkable day for us with this project.”

He also thanked Voacolo and MRE for being the partner for the project. “I was in Pohnpei and I saw that he also partnered with the mayor of Kolonia. This just shows that we have the right and good partner.”

“I’m excited for the completion of the project and other projects will come from the Grants Department. [This] would help lessen the challenges faced by farmers here in Kagman and it would also help them with their production.”

Torres said the project would help Kagman farmers with their water supply. “The solar panels are a great step to address and assist the farmers here and it would give them a more stable water supply. They would also be off the [Commonwealth Utilities Corp.] grid and that would lessen their power cost.”

He thanked Dela Cruz, OGM, DLNR, and CUC for collaborating to address the needs of the farmers in Kagman.

Cabrera said the money for the project took longer to be released, as they needed to secure the proper permits. “The project went to the proper procurement process. And we applied for the grant in 2016. However, it hit some snags due to the permitting process. There’s a lengthy process, with the local permits, and we have to wait for federal permits to be issued before we can get local permit. Completion date for the project is 210 days.”

Grants specialist Frankie Angel said the project is the brainchild of their office and the DLNR’s Division of Agriculture, headed by director Manny Tenorio and his team, with a signed memorandum of understanding with CUC and SNISWC.

“The project would produce enough power to well systems KS1, KS2, KS3, KG8, and KG20. It will consist of an 18,000-watt system and the project would cut the utility cost of the farmers and at the same time increase their energy efficiency; that would ensure steady water supply.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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