Manu’a Islands on track for 100% renewable energy

fili@samoanews.com

American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) is on track to soon have the Manu’a islands group using 100% renewable energy, which has been the push by the government for the last few years.

In it’s fiscal year 2016 third-quarter performance report — covering the period of Apr. 1-June 30 — ASPA says the renewable energy projects for Manu’a continue to move forward. And at the end of the third quarter, ASPA says, approximately 70% of the photovoltaic (PV) array installation is completed for the Ofu hybrid project.

However, it says pending installation work includes the battery storage building, the installation of the generators and switchgear as well as transmission and distribution installations.

On Ta’u island, the Hybrid Project is progressing with the PV array installation at 60% complete, the ASPA report says adding that funding from US Interior Department Office of Insular Affairs’ (OIA) Empowering Insular Communities (EIC) Grant program has allowed for additional battery storage for the system, bringing it to a total of 6 megawatts.

Pending installation for the project includes the battery storage system, the diesel generators and switchgear as well as transmission and distribution work, the ASPA report says.

During Thursday’s Fono Joint Budget Committee hearing, Territorial Energy Office (TEO) director Ali’itama Sotoa was asked by Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean about what TEO is doing to help with solar panels and renewable energy in the Manu’a islands.

Sotoa responded that TEO is working with ASPA and American Samoa Environmental Protection Agency on the projects and that once the projects are completed Manu’a will be 100% using solar energy instead of being dependent on diesel fuel.

According to OIA’s fiscal year 2016 budget justification document submitted to the US Congress, it was in 2014 that OIA awarded an $800,000 EIC grant to ASPA to install a hybrid renewable energy system in the Manu’a Islands.

“A major goal of the American Samoa energy action plan is to help the Manu’a Islands obtain 100% of its electrical power from renewable energy by the end of 2016,” said OIA, adding that the first phase of this project will add solar panels and a battery backup system to the existing diesel generators on the island of Ofu.

OIA expects direct cost savings in avoided diesel fuel is about $238,000 per year and the project began last year.

WATER SYSTEM

For the water system, the ASPA third quarter performance report says the work plan for the Manu’a Sanitary Survey project is currently being revised per US Environmental Protection Agency comments.

The project, it says, will address the deficiencies in ASPA-Manu’a’s public water system and will help to ensure protection of the islands’ limited water resources and to sustain safe drinking water for the community in compliance with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

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