Swimming pool, wind turbine projects for SSHS on hold

Two projects for Saipan Southern High School remain on hold following disclosures that funding for one has been reprogrammed while some requirements have yet been fulfilled for the other, according to Board of Education officials.

Board member Lucy Blanco-Maratita disclosed at a recent meeting that the school’s swimming pool project is still in the books of the Northern Marianas Housing Corp., which handles the community development block grant where the funding is supposed to come from. At the moment, no funding has been committed for the project yet.

Saipan Tribune learned that the construction of the first-ever swimming pool project of the Public School System was cancelled in school year 2011-2012 after the Fitial administration reprogrammed some $200,000 for the project to pay for the central government’s debt with the Commonwealth Utilities Corp in 2010. The Education Board approved the project in September 2009.

Board chair Marylou Ada told the board that the project is still on and is only awaiting the allocation of new CDBG funds from the housing corporation.

According to Education Commissioner Rita A. Sablan, housing corporation officials have told them that many of the agency’s projects are delayed. No commitment was made on which program year funds will be tapped for the pool project.

Besides the pool, the wind turbine project at SSHS has also yet to be completed pending the completion of some federal requirements. Sablan told the board that PSS will be meeting with the project contractor this month to obtain updates on the project.

The installation of wind turbines at SSHS is part of the PSS green energy project, which was temporarily put on hold last year due to failure to secure the necessary permits to build the wind turbines inside the campus.

The CNMI Division of Energy received $6.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy last year for renewable energy projects, $2.4 million of which was given to PSS for the installation of wind turbines and solar panels in 11 schools.

In March 2010, SSHS broke ground for the construction of six 95-feet wind turbines and 95 solar panels on campus.

Once the project is completed, SSHS is expected to produce its own electricity, as much as 165 kilowatts, enough to power the entire campus, and save up to $200,000 in annual utility payments.

The green energy project was initially targeted to be completed within 2011.

By Moneth Deposa

Moneth G. Deposa | Reporter

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