House unanimously confirms Ali’itama Sotoa to head TEO
Governor Lolo Matalasi Moliga’s nominee to oversee the Territorial Energy Office, Ali’itama Sotoa, was unanimously confirmed by the House members in a vote of 19-0, yesterday. Lawmakers heard from the nominee that TEO’s current mission working with the American Samoa Power Authority is that by year 2016-2017, there will be no more fossil fuel used in the Manu’a Islands, rather they will be on renewable energy, reducing their electricity bill to 50-60% less.
Rep Lemapu Suiaunoa asked Sotoa as to why the TEO office is initiating the renewable energy with Manu’a and not on Tutuila island first, as there are not that many people living in Manu’a. “You are from Manu’a,” the faipule pointed out.
He then went on to say that Sotoa’s resume speaks for itself and called him “over-qualified for the position.” Lemapu told Sotoa that the TEO office should work hand-in-hand with ASPA to find ways to drop the cost of electricity for our people.
Sotoa responded that they are working closely with ASPA, as they should for the betterment of the people. A majority of the lawmakers noted that Sotoa’s resume is commendable and they did not question his qualifications, however they advised Sotoa that directors who have come before the Fono for confirmation hearings have voiced a mission they have to fulfill, yet when they are confirmed, their actions speak otherwise. The lawmakers told Sotoa to be honest and do great things for the betterment of the people.
Rep Fetu Fetui Jr. urged Sotoa not to follow the footsteps of his predecessors, “too much talk and no action; please don’t be like these people and always walk the talk,” he advised. He also seconded comments by the Vice Speaker that Manu’a is underserved and that has to change.
The governor pointed out that Sotoa has close to 40 years of experience in engineering, design, procurement, construction and management of major overhead and underground transmission and distribution facilities, renewable energy as well as major developer driven projects with San Diego Gas & Electric Company where he retired last December.
(Updated 1/27/14 to show correction on first name of nominee.)