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Energy projects focus on reduced A.S. electric costs

rhonda@samoanews.com

Seven million dollars worth of foreign made solar panels that are sitting inside 13 containers stored at the American Samoa Power Authority’s Tafuna yard were rejected by the The Office of Energy (TEO), because they did not meet the ‘made in America’ specifications of the project, which had been funded by the US Department of Energy with stimulus funds.

TEO is the local oversight agent for local US Dept. of Energy projects, while ASPA is the performing agency, which subcontracted the project to SunWize, the company that supplied the foreign made solar panels.

According to a TEO official, the solar panels were earmarked for a US Department of Energy project that is focused on reducing the cost of electricity for the territory. While there are six (6) projects in total funded by the US Dept. of Energy with stimulus funds, this particular project will install solar panels at the end of the airport runway, and they are intended to generate 1.5 megawatts for the ASPA grid.

To use the foreign made solar panels for the project, TEO and ASPA submitted two waiver requests of the ‘specs’ to the US Dept. of Energy, however both were rejected, according to TEO. The waiver requests were denied, because the panels are not American made, and the US Dept. of Energy believed there was enough time to work with SunWize to obtain ‘American made’ panels, causing no delay in the project. 

The TEO official told Samoa News the over sight (ordering foreign made solar panels) is no one’s fault and pointing fingers is useless. The main thing, is there is a remedial plan in the works and this project will be completed soon.

The remedial plan gave ASPA time to obtain the new Sharp panels, from its subcontractor, SunWize, and they are made in America. They should be arriving on island soon.

The official added that the six projects should stop ASPA from further raising rates, and he would be willing to testify to that if they increment another raise. All six projects have a required end date of Dec. 2012.

The TEO official told Samoa News that the foreign made solar panels, which were supplied by SunWize (a company in the U.S.), are still sitting in the 13 containers at the authority’s Tafuna yard, because things are still being worked out with SunWize as to whether or not ASPA will keep the foreign made solar panels to use on other projects — projects not funded by the US Dept. of Energy ARRA or stimulus money.

The TEO official said part of the remedial plan also calls for ASPA to be credited by SunWize for the rejected shipment and purchase of the panels, and this credit will in turn be used to pay for the ‘American made’ panels that are on their way.

Samoa News has been unable to independently confirm this, with calls to the authority not returned as of press time.



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