‘Guam not yet ready for 100 percent renewable power’

There isn’t enough power from renewable sources to fully serve Guam’s energy needs.

The island needs the new power plant proposed by the Guam Power Authority and is not yet ready to embrace 100 percent renewable energy.

This was the testimony offered by Consolidated Commission on Utilities commissioner Simon Sanchez II during the Public Utilities Commission’s initial hearing on GPA’s proposed 198-megawatt combined cycle power plant.

Opponents of GPA’s proposed power plant argue that the money for the power plant can better be used in the development of more renewable energy facilities.

But Sanchez pointed out that despite all the rhetoric and generalizations made by opponents of GPA’s proposed power plant, not one was willing to risk their capital and reputation for a 100 percent renewable solution work using only renewable technology.

He also cited GPA estimates that a 100 percent renewable equivalent to the conventional bids would cost $3.7 billion, or $600 million more than the proposed generation solution—even when you include the cost of fuel for 25 years.

“Current renewable technology for storage is still too expensive and unreliable to purchase it today. Proponents of a 100 percent renewable equivalent today would have you buy battery technology at its highest costs and most unreliable capability instead of taking a more measured approach that rides the battery storage technology curve up while you also ride the cost curve down. And, it would take 3500 acres to build enough solar generation and storage capacity to make the equivalent energy that the proposed conventional generation solution would provide,” Sanchez said.

Unlike GPA’s current generators, Sanchez said the proposed new generator can handle the regular intermittency that occurs with solar energy when cloud cover, extended periods of rain and night time reduce the effectiveness and availability of solar energy.

He cited GPA records which show that last April, the DanDan solar farm failed to produce energy for 13 days when Guam’s rainy weather made it impossible to make sufficient solar energy.

“What would 100 percent renewable proponents tell the people of Guam in the future when there isn’t enough power from renewable sources to serve Guam’s needs, perhaps for days? Opponents to this new generator conveniently ignore these facts and offer no detailed solutions, costs nor timelines to provide the needed capacity and energy Guam will need in the future,” Sanchez said.

He added: “Renewable bidders with money did not want to take the financial risk that proponents so easily want the ratepayers of Guam to risk. It is ironic that 99 percent of those who oppose this solution are still GPA customers and are not 100 percent off the grid. Why won’t they spend their own money—even with ‘no money down’ solutions available— when they so easily advocate to spend other ratepayers’ money for a 100 percent renewable solution that even they don’t purchase?”