Governor Lolo seeks DOI- OIA support for alternative energy initiatives
Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga has shared with Esther Kia’aina, the new Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, the high cost of utilities, as well as water quality problems faced by American Samoa.
Lolo is seeking Interior Department’s support for current alternative energy initiatives by the government that are being spearheaded by the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee (ASREC).
Renewable energy was among the many issues cited in the governor’s letter to Kia’aina last month. He noted that the high cost of utilities is impacting the administration’s efforts to achieve its economic and social development goals and objectives. The governor has been pushing for renewable energy projects to move forward in an effort to reduce the cost of electric and water service in American Samoa. The governor noted that electric costs fluctuate between 40 and 45 cents per kilowatt and this is “a major disincentive and deterrent to businesses and economic development expansion.”
Regarding water, he said the cost of water is just as expensive, although water quality is not up to standards. “Residents and businesses are forced to subsidize the cost of water caused by water system loss of 60% to 70%,” he explained.
Lolo said the high cost of utilities limits the disposable income of residents and profitability of businesses, causing suppression of consumption and stymieing economic development growth.
According to the governor, American Samoa needs Interior Department to help with current alternative energy generation initiatives— such as solar, geo-thermal energy and liquefied natural gas.
The administration is expected to share additional information soon with DOI’s Office of Insular Affairs. Lolo is also expected to address these specific issues on alternative energy at next month’s opening of the 34th Legislature when he delivers his State of the Territory Address.
Last year, the American Samoa Energy Action Plan was published and it identifies key strategies that can be implemented in the short term to help achieve fossil fuel reductions.
The priority strategies are: strengthen the institutional capacity of ASREC; make Manu’a 100% renewable by 2016; deploy more wind and solar on Tutuila; assess geothermal on Tutuila; and assess hydropower.
The plan includes specific actions, timelines, performance metrics, and the party or person responsible for implementation of each strategy. Details of the plan were submitted last year to OIA, which has it available online under the OIA/NREL Territorial Energy Program column. Other details can be found on: www.asrec.org
The governor also shared with Kia’aina some of the pressing development problems that the administration has targeted for bond issues, through the American Samoa Economic Development Authority.
He said ASEDA would issue bonds to secure funds to repair the dilapidated public highways, construction of the container wharf as well as construction of the marina in Malaloa.
Another major project is the relocation of the jet-fuel tank farm at the Pago Pago International Airport. Lolo said the jet fuel farm is hazard-prone and unsafe, adding that relocation of the jet fuel will unlock Federal Aviation Administration funding of over $50 million. (See Oct. 28 edition of Samoa News for details on these projects).