Guam DOE solar power bill advances to the voting file

Senator Telena Cruz Nelson (PNC file photo)

Guam lawmakers spent most of the day in a debate on Vice Speaker Telena Nelson’s bill that would allow the Guam Department of Education to install solar power panels on the island’s public schools in order to cut down on their power bill.

Sen. Nelson said GDOE spends nearly $13 million on electricity every year.

She said her Bill 196 could cut that in half and the savings could be used to provide much-needed capital improvement funding for the schools.

However, the Guam Power Authority has raised objections, warning that if the schools went solar, that would put an added burden on all other ratepayers who have to pick up the added cost of maintaining the transmission grid to the schools on rainy days or when it’s dark.

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“Department of Education, they operate during the day, which is justifiable for them to go solar because, from my understanding, GPA’s initial concern was that they’re going to have to pass on the base rate to the consumers to maintain the transmission and distribution of the grid. However, if GDOE operates during the day, then there should not be a base rate for transmission and distribution to the grid if 90% of the time their power is on, and it’s on during the day,” Nelson said.

A number of amendments were debated during the day, mostly having to do with who would get the cost savings from lower power bills, and what that extra money should be spent on.

Nelson emphasized that any savings should be spent by each school on their capital improvement needs.

Bill 196-35 was eventually advanced to the voting file without objection.