The Guam Power Authority is facing a tight deadline to complete the new power plant approved last night by the Public Utilities Commission.
Under the terms of the consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the new plant must be completed and operating by October 22, 2022.
The PUC gave the final approval Thursday night for GPA to enter into an agreement with Korean Electric Power Corp. to build a new 198-megawatt power plant across from the Micronesia Mall in Dededo.
Its construction is the U.S. EPA’s key requirement under the consent decree with GPA, which cited the GPA for Clean Air Act violations for the dirty emissions coming from the aging Cabras generators.
Attorney Fred Horecky is the PUC’s Chief Administrative Law Judge and he recommended approval of the project.
“This was really the best choice. It had the added benefits of satisfying the U.S. EPA’s environmental concerns. Those were clean air act violations that have been occurring since 2013, 2015. That decree and agreement for the government would only pay $400,000 because that is a pretty cheap settlement for these things,” Horecky said.
When completed, the new plant will burn ultra-low sulfur fuel and the two remaining Cabras units still in operation will be shut down.
“So it’s one of the elements the federal government would not settle the potential lawsuit unless GPA agreed to build the power plant by Oct 2022. Will we make that deadline? John Benavente has said it’s a tight deadline, but he thinks it can be met,” Horecky said.
Guam EPA is faced with the prospect of additional fines if Korea Electric Power does not meet the October 2022 deadline for completion of the plant.
“That is the main reason last night why I presented an argument to the PUC that they could not delay further decision … that it’s essential that this plant be built as soon as possible,” Horecky said.
The new plant has come under criticism by some who fault it for its continued reliance on fossil fuels rather than renewable energy like solar.
However, Horecky says GPA has done a “commendable” job integrating renewable energy sources into its system with about 165 megawatts online now.
“The reason that this power plant is needed, a fossil fuel plant, is that the renewables by themselves are not capable of providing base load power. And in fact without this power plant, we couldn’t even incorporate the renewables into the power system,” Horecky said.