Proposed solar project has LBJ going solar — no ASPA backup

joyetter@samoanews.com

Chairman of the Hospital Board, Filifa’atali Mike Fuiava has confirmed that the hospital is looking at going solar for its energy needs, and had signed a “binding agreement” with the Hawaii Unified Services (HUS) LLC “for their (HUS) tax credit purposes” — but it’s still in the works for the time being. However, while LBJ seems to believe it will be keeping the American Samoa Power Authority as a ‘backup’, ASPA is saying under the HUS proposal that is not the case.

Samoa News understands that HUS has retained Native Hawaiian Energy and its resource partners to perform the Engineering, Project Management and Construction of the project. Responding to Samoa News queries, Filifa’atali said, “We are looking into anything that will drop the cost and save money to better the medical services provided for the public.”

He said that the solar project is still in the works and they are waiting on the company to submit their proposal to the board for consideration.

The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Taufete’e John Faumuina told Samoa News last week that turning to solar will help the hospital save money and then referred all questions about the project to the hospital Chief Engineer, I’iga Peseta Sa Mavaega.

According to I’iga, the hospital pays between $1.1- $1.2million annually for its energy needs, and if they switch to solar they will save $240- 250K annually and that’s a lot of savings.

He made it clear that they had informed the company that ASPA would still be their backup in case of any issue that arises. Other questions regarding the project were not answered as the Chief Engineer referred it back to the CEO.

In the meantime Samoa News reached out to ASPA CEO Utu Abe Malae, who referred the matter to ASPA’s Managing Director Paul Michael Young.

Young confirmed they have been informed of the move by the hospital to go solar, however he told Samoa News that LBJ will no longer rely on ASPA for electricity, or will ASPA be a back up to the hospital under HUS’ proposal through its energy partners.

ASPA’s managing director said, “We have been informed by H. Wailana Kamauu, Jr., President/ CEO of AL&E, American LED and Energy and NHE, Native Hawaiian Energy via an email dated January 12, 2017 that: ‘As you probably know, we have a signed binding term sheet with LBJ on the construction of a PV with ESS system.’

According to Young, “Solar Vision Hawaii informed ASPA of their proposed project to install a 2.0-2.5MW solar park with batteries at the LBJ site,” and made it clear that under the proposal, “LBJ will no longer rely on ASPA to supply it with power or be its back-up.”

Young further says that he along with ASPA Controller and ASPA Customer Service Head met with LBJ's Chairman, CEO, CFO, Chief Engineer and Financial Advisor on Friday, December 23, 2016 to discuss the solar park project at LBJ. “No further formal discussions with LBJ since then. However, several informal conversations about the project have occurred.”

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