ASPA issues statement disputing faipule's “Illegal Streetlights” claim
Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — The American Samoa Power Authority issued a press release over the long weekend regarding the article in the Samoa News dated Friday January 15, 2021. ASPA says the article titled “Over 2,000 streetlights were illegally installed last year” was inaccurate.
The press release notes the 2,000 illegal streetlights were detected last year when ASPA crews were installing the new LED lights and the illegal lights were installed over many years and not last year as earlier reported, according to ASPA.
In the report, Samoa News was quoting a statement made in the fono last week by Rep. Alumamalu Ale Filoiali’i, chair of the House American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) Committee.
Alumamalu’s statement was in response to a complaint raised by Rep. Vailoata E. Amituana’i in the House about Fagaalu having no streetlights. Alumamalu said as quoted in the story, “According to a report from ASPA officials, as ASPA crews were on the road installing new streetlights in each village, Senators, Representatives and even family Sa’o of some villages approached them and instructed them to install extra streetlights to several locations that were not supposed to have a streetlight. As a result, some villages were unable to receive new streetlights because of the shortage.”
According to Alumamalu, “over 2,000 streetlights were illegally installed” due to these demands.
BACKGROUND AND ASPA EXPLAINATION
ASPA secured a Department of Interior grant in FY-2020 to replace all non-LED streetlights in territory. The program paid for a one-for-one replacement and official records revealed that there were 5,500 active streetlights in ASPA’s billing system. ASG pays for public lighting along main roads, secondary roads, while residents and businesses pay for street lights on private properties. ASPA planned to replace all 5,500 active streetlights and install 500 more along main and side roads for security.
The LED Streetlight Replacement Project started in July 2020 and after replacing close to 5,000 lights, it was determined that 3,000 more lights located along secondary roads and private properties needed to be replaced. Many of these lights were not on ASPA’s billing system, meaning no one was paying for them; hence the term “illegal streetlights”.
ASPA had to order 2,000 more lights to complete the project. When completed, ASPA will perform a full streetlight count so the number of streetlights in the field matches the number in its billing system.
The streetlight count will begin on February 1, 2021 and ASPA will document and bill regular monthly streetlight charges to the correct customers. Streetlights located on or serving private properties will be billed to the owner or tenant. If you do not wish to be charged the monthly fee, ASPA will remove the streetlight from your property. Any streetlights facing your property instead of the main road will also be charged to your meter. This includes street lights along private and family access roads. The ASG only pays for streetlights on the public roads and government properties.
In ending, ASPA sincerely thanked the public for their patience and support.