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House ASPA Committee questions progress on projects after recent power outages

ASPA CEO Wallon Young
reporters@samoanews.com

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Chairman of the House ASPA Committee, Rep. Titialii  Kitara Vaiau warned his House colleagues to ask Yes and No questions to the ASPA Chief Executive Director  Wallon Young and the Water Division Talimatai Elisala Su'ai. However, questions from Taualauta Faipule Larry Sanitoa needed more than a Yes and No response from the witnesses. 

The pair was called into the House of Representatives for an unexpected ASPA related hearing on Monday July 24, 2023, due to several power outage issues arising in both the Manu’a Islands and Tutuila recently.

Sanitoa thanked ASPA for revisiting the roads at Pavaiai, Faleniu and Maleimi adding, "it’s one of those things, that the contractor was doing it right from the beginning, and didn’t think they’d go back and redo the road again, which probably cost a bit more money, but maybe cost more money by redoing it back to normal."

He asked ASPA’s CEO about the filtration plant — when would that be up and running, and if American Samoa is still on ‘boil’ water (notice)? 

In response the ASPA CEO said the plant is ready for commissioning, but the electrical switch that was ordered by Fletchers sub contractor hasn’t arrived yet, “that’s the outstanding item left”.

He also assured the House that ASPA has tested the pumps, filled the tanks but the switch gear is taking a long time as it was ordered last year and still hasn’t arrived. 

Sanitoa asked about a backup plan for the plant, as Fletcher is leaving. Do they they have somebody else contracted to take their place?

Young responded that they are holding some retention money, a few hundred thousands. Adding, ”Fletcher has committed to supplying a switchgear, we’re also on standby if they don’t, we’ll sort it out, but the waiting time is the arrival of the switchgear.

Would that be sometime this year? Sanitoa asked. “The latest would be by September and as soon as that’s on, then ASPA would lift the boil water(notice),”Wallon replied.

The line of questions from Tualauta’s faipule continued to the PPA with the wind farm, saying he knows ASPA is not spending any money on this project, all because of a different investment from two companies from Japan.

Sanitoa further said he knows that ASPA is moving forward and everything is on track and he knows ASPA would be paying the company a certain amount of money a month, an hour.

He reminded ASPA about American Samoa’s decreasing population and if something happened to the cannery, how much megawatt would they be able to generate from this plant; or how much does ASPA intend to buy from this company?

The ASPA CEO told the House, they are committed to buy 100million kilowatt hours per year.

“ASPA is currently selling about 160million kilowatts a year, about 42 megawatts.

“But wind would be like solar, it’s an intermittent source.

“Sometimes you have wind, sometimes there’s no wind.

“Calculation is based on production, kilowatts hours, it would supply about 100milion kilowatts hours a year — Well, sort of what we need for this country.”

Sanitoa asked for clarification from the CEO about the impact of to ASPA and the people if something happens to the cannery.

However, there was no direct answer from the CEO, other than assuring that the generators at Satala and Tafuna were still going to be online, not taken away and replaced by the kilowatts it is committed to buy from the Japanese company.

"Again Looking ahead, if something happens to the cannery,” Sanitoa said.

“Where some 17% of the power you generate goes to the cannery, how would that … impact ASPA and the people?

“As I understand (it), the generators are still going to be here, for Satala and also Tafuna, because there is no guarantee.

“We are not going to take those generators away?

“Is that correct?

Young replied, “That is correct.”