GPA Explains Why Renewables are Tied to LEAC; VP of Major Solar Company Disagrees

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The vice president of a major solar company on Guam is disagreeing with GPA’s opinion that renewable energy production costs should not be tied to the LEAC.

Guam –  Jeff Voacola, Vice President of Micronesia Renewable Energy says he would like to see a change in the way renewable energy production is measured. 

“I would like to see it changed to the base rate, we would, I think it’s more fair for our industry,” said Voacola. “And that’s the way the law is written here on Guam, it’s tied to the LEAC price. Solar energy adds a lot more value than just fuel avoidance, T and D transmission distribution, line loss. You know we contribute to a better efficiency to the grid. So there’s a lot what we call value for solar that we add.”

This is in contrast to the way GPA feels. The power authority says that because of the inconsistency of solar energy, due to cloud cover.

“There is a perception out there that renewable energy is equivalent to a generator and its not. It’s not equivalent because a generator is 24/7, you can count it, you know how much you can count it, you can work with it, it’s very predictable, it’s reliable, it doesn’t give you problems. When it comes to renewable energy you can’t count on it. Its intermittent you can’t even count on how much,” said CCU Chairman Joey Duenas.

Duenas compares it to the days before the LEAC, when oil prices were going up and down and GPA had to keep on going back for more rate increases or decreases. To avoid this, the PUC created the LEAC, which helped level out the inconsistency. Duenas also says that this inconsistency from renewable energy causes a strain on Guam’s current plants, furthering the need for a combined cycle unit plant that works better with renewables.

“All this does is it allows us to back up the oil so maybe the machine can run a little less so what does that save you oil? It’s not a generator, it just backs off the oil and that’s why were going to Combined Cycle Units cause Combined Cycle Units can go up and down faster,” said Duenas.

According to Voacola, by going to combine cycle units, GPA  is not taking advantage of a prime opportunity to push forward with renewable energy. He says now is the perfect time to work together with the utilities.

“We need to work together. To find out where are we gonna be a year from now, where are we gonna be 5 years from now 10 years from now, 15 years form now. Because this industry is changing and it’s changing quickly. The technology is getting very, very fast. Energy storage has come just incredible in a matter of 12 months of where we were 12 months ago to now, so to be planning a powerplant that has a 34 year life expectancy that might be a piece of scrap metal in 15 years that everybody’s paying for including myself, because if the ratepayers cant afford to pay for that someone has to pay for that, ” said Voacola.