Community Briefs


Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has reconstituted the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee (ASREC) with the newly Fono confirmed Territorial Energy Office director Ali’itama Sotoa as chairman, while American Samoa Power Authority executive director Utu Abe Malae remains the vice chair.
Timothy Jones Sr., the TEO’s former acting director, had been chairman since last year, and maintained the chair post when he was appointed administrator of the office, after being twice rejected by the Fono. Sotoa was officially confirmed by the Fono last month.
In his memo to reconstitute ASREC, the governor appointed Jones, David Robinson and Leland Slater as private sector members of the committee. Additionally, ASEPA director Ameko Pato and the agency’s Tim Bodell are ASEPA representatives on the committee.
Renewable Energy Stakeholder members are Mark Kneubuhl and David Herdrich, according to the memo which also outlines what the governor says are the responsibilities of ASREC, namely to develop a vision, mission and goals for reducing dependence on fossil fuels, improving energy efficiency and developing renewable energy resources.
Furthermore, ASREC is to establish an organizational structure to appropriately develop a comprehensive, long term Strategic Energy Plan for American Samoa; and work with territorial and federal officials to secure technical assistance in the form of expertise and funding in order to move ASREC’s mission forward.
According to the governor, all ASG agencies and departments shall support and where appropriate, assist the committee in the development and implementation of its goals.
Samoa News should point out that the Strategic Energy Plan for American Samoa can be found at: http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy14osti/60556.pdf. It is sponsored by the Department of Interior - Office of Insular Affairs, and is dated December 2013.
The document is submitted from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), with acknowledgments from the NREL to the ASREC for their “support in the development, review, and finalization of this strategic energy planning document…”
Treasury Department has hired Robert Ho Chee as “our banking consultant” and he will be instrumental in working with Zions Bank and other local banking institutes to ensure a smooth transition that will support “our government payroll and vendor payments,” the department said in its FY 2014 first quarter performance report.
The Utah-based Zions Bank has taken over as the ASG bank providing among other things, the processing and issuance of payroll for ASG employees in the executive, legislature and judicial branches.
According to the first quarter report, Chee is based in the department’s Analytical Unit and his background in banking environment will provide “dynamic and robust support to our other initiatives.”
Chee will work closely with the Treasurer and the ASG Economic Development Advisory Group to implement “our numerous vital projects in the planning stages.”
The report also revealed that Mike Usle has been recruited to head the Grants Reimbursement Project with the Finance Division. Usle’s experience in federal programs will greatly assist our initiatives "to recover most of the receivables that are owed to the government from various federal programs,” it says.
Usle will work closely with department representatives and liaise with their counterparts in reviewing the outstanding receivables.
In his State of the Territory Address last month to the Fono, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga says about $26 million remains to be collected in outstanding federal grant reimbursements.
Pago Pago International Airport will conduct a triennial emergency response exercise on Feb. 28 (Friday) from 9a.m. to 12 noon, and this “realistic exercise” is a Federal Aviation Administration Certification requirement to test airfield preparedness and response and will simulate an airline crash at the airport.
Port Administration director Taimailelagi Dr. Claire Tuia Poumele says about 150 volunteers from Tafuna High School will play the role of causalities and the exercise will also include a fire suppression drill.
A total of 17 government and private sector entities — including the airlines operating out of the airport — will be involved in this exercise.
Taimailelagi says all flight operations will continue as normal during the exercise while motorists are asked to be aware of the additional emergency vehicles and security personnel along the Airport Road.


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