US House committee approves Kilili wind energy amendment

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee agreed yesterday to amend a national energy bill to include a feasibility study for offshore wind energy in the Marianas.

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) offered the amendment during the mark-up of H.R. 4239, the SECURE American Energy Act.

If the study demonstrates that wind energy is a feasible alternative for electrical generation in the Marianas, the bill authorizes offshore leases to be offered.

“I want to thank [committee chair] Rob Bishop for his co-sponsorship of my amendment,” Sablan said. “Lowering the cost of electricity is important for businesses and family households in the Marianas, so we have to use every opportunity to find means to do that.”

Sablan’s amendment instructs the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to conduct the economic feasibility study and submit the results to Congress within 180 days of enactment of the SECURE Act. If the study finds that the use of wind energy is feasible, a lease is to be offered no later than one year after enactment.

A 2017 study of unsubsidized levelized cost of energy by the investment firm Lazard found the cost of offshore wind to be $113 per MWh as compared to $197 for diesel reciprocating engine generation in remote locations.

The 2013 Renewable Energy Integration Study commissioned by the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. found possibilities for significant cost savings with the addition of renewable energy to the CUC system. Up to 8,000 kW of energy from wind or solar generation could be added to the CUC system without requiring any storage system to smooth the input from these energy sources into the Saipan distribution grid, the study found. (PR)

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