Can Solar Energy Solve Future Energy Problems?


Micronesia Renewable Energy Vice President Jeff Voacolo takes the stage at a Rotary Club meeting at Pacific Star Resort in Tumon. 

Guam – A Vice President of a local solar company on Guam believes that the technology for people on Guam to live independently on solar energy is here and ready to go.


At a time when the PUC is considering allowing the Guam power authority to build two new combined cycle power plants that will run on fossil fuels, Joe Voacolo thinks that those plants will be “worth nothing” in ten years.


“Because the renewable energy industry right now is growing so quickly, the technology is advancing so quickly that anyone building a brand new plant now, [is] going to be stuck with this stranded asset that will be worth nothing in the next ten or fifteen years,” said Voacola.


He says the technology to allow families to live completely independent from traditional utilities is here. Voacolo adds that if 1,500 households on Guam convert to solar, it would eliminate the need for GPA to build new plants.


“So, there are systems that we can do right now. [We can] introduce to the residential community [at] no cost down, a reasonable power rate,” said Voacolo.  “If we continue to do that and that’s Saipan but even in Guam, just take 35 percent of the households, we wouldn’t even need this power plant.“


So where is GPA with renewable energy? According to a recent report, GPA is behind. In a recent order, the PUC told GPA that it must develop a strategy for further development of renewable energy resources. The Lummus consulting firm determined that GPA’s resource/compliance planning “does not adequately incorporate the potential impact of renewable energy.” It says, quote, “GPA’s current projections call for a maximum of 120MW of renewable energy; after the limit is reached, there is no further provision for additional renewable energy resources.”   


In other words, IF GPA reaches 120 MW of renewable energy, they don’t have a plan for what’s next. The PUC also notes that GPA must expand their demand side management program, which rewards customers for buying energy-efficient appliances. Lummus pointed out that GPA has not fully considered the potential expansions of a demand side management program.