GPA ‘disappointed’ with senator’s criticism of new Ukudu power plant

GPA general manager John Benavente responds to Sen. Clynt Ridgell's news release during Tuesday night's CCU meeting.

Guam Power Authority general manager John Benavente expressed disappointment Tuesday night over Sen. Clynt Ridgell’s criticism of the multi-billion-dollar contract for the construction of a 198-megawatt power plant at Ukudu near the Two Lovers Point area.

Ridgell, in a news release Tuesday afternoon, said the contract, which was awarded to the multi-national, multi-billion-dollar corporation out of South Korea known as KEPCO, has been both delayed and significantly changed due to an inability to get the environmental permits necessary for its full construction at the Ukudu site.

But Benavente, during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Consolidated Commission on Utilities, took time out to add to the agenda a response to Ridgell’s charges.

“It’s really looking like trying to kill the power plant project in a nutshell. I’m quite disappointed with this because we’ve been through this process for several years. We’ve gone through the CCU and the PUC. Everyone in the community knows what this is and why we are putting on the new power plant,” Benavente said.

He added that the project is so close to finally putting concrete on the ground and for Sen. Ridgell to again put a monkey wrench on the project should concern not just GPA but everyone in the community because the project is meant to save ratepayers money in the long run.

“This project is also required by EPA regulations because our generators are already old, with the youngest one being 23 years old. The oldest one is 46 years old already and past its life expectancy,” the GPA general manager said.

Benavente also pointed out that the military is expanding its presence on Guam and that would require even greater power demand which GPA might not be able to provide if it relies on its existing generators alone.

“And for those who are concerned about the rates going up because we’re building a new generator, well, the rates are not going to go up, and in fact, they’re going to go down. And it’s going to increase the island’s renewable energy too,” Benavente said,

He added: “So, again, with all due respect to the senator, I wish he will try to work with us and understand.”