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Chair of ASPA says ASPA believes in a Public-Private Partnership to gain success

This photo provided by ASPA, shows the “first smoke” of engine number 3 on March 3, 2017 — considered an important milestone for the new Satala Power Plant. [SN file photo]
Points to the new $56Mil Satala Power plant

In moving forward renewable energy for the territory, American Samoa Power Authority board chairman, Fonoti Perelini says ASPA believes in a Public-Private Partnership in order to gain success.

Fonoti made the comment during his remarks last Thursday at the official dedication of the $56 million new Satala Power Plant project, which replaces the previous plant, destroyed in the 2009 tsunami.

The board chair thanked Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for re-appointing last month the current board, which was first appointed in 2013. Besides Fonoti, other board members are Peter Crispin, Isabel Hudson, Daniel King and Solip Hong. The Fono has since confirmed all five board members.

“I can assure you governor, ASPA continues to move forward,” Fonoti said during his remarks and noted that the governor had reminded the board recently of “our mandate” — which includes brining down the cost of electricity.

Fonoti said ASPA is involved in a lot of things in the government, in partnership with many ASG agencies and “we work closely with them” for example in the field of education.

Samoa News notes that ASPA chairs the American Samoa Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) partnership, which includes public and private sector entities, while the ASDOE is vice chair.

“And we’re also looking at all different ways to improve the infrastructure to attract new businesses [to] our shores,” Fonoti said and recalled that another issue raised by the governor with the board “is the cost of electricity because if the costs don’t go down, there will be questions about all these preparations.”

Fonoti then explained that the engines powering the new Satala plant, are the “the most efficient engines... available in the world right now.” He said they were developed by the Germans and Americans about 15 years ago for use in the railroads, in the US, and also fishing fleets.

“We were very fortunate … we have them here. So, they’re very efficient,” he said, and noted that the governor had also reminded the board about renewable energy, so “we approached Manu’a first because we know its difficult when transporting fuel.”

“Now that we have the Manu’a [renewable] situation resolved, we’re moving into Tutuila. It’s good that we started with Manu’a, because we looked at different models of developing renewables,” he said and explained that the learning lesson from Manu’a is partnership — the government owns the facility “but we partnered with the financing of it.”

“It was a combination of federal grants, a loan, and more importantly, was the contribution by the customers — the rate payers — in funding the facility in Ta’u and then in Ofu/Olosega. Now the lesson we learn from Manu’a [will be used for Tutuila],” he said.

“We believe, the best way to develop renewable here is by partnership — PPP — Public Private Partnership. There are several ways to develop renewables on Tutuila — first, transparency, meaning that if the government is partner in the project, everything is transparent, all the information is on the table,” he said. “Second, we have a say in the development, that means ASG has a share in the development.”

Now that Ta’u and Ofu solar projects are completed as well as the new Satala power plant, Fonoti says ASPA is working on its resources for Tutuila renewables. And while the goal has been set for American Samoa to be 100% renewable by 2040, Fonoti said they want to do it earlier than that.

In closing he expressed appreciation to the governor and the administration as well as the Fono and the public for their continued support. Prior to Fonoti’s remarks, the governor addressed the gathering and publicly praised the board. (See yesterday’s Samoa News online story for details.)