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Ta’u solar array built by local guys, says Solar City

All part of keeping the money here — “where it belongs”

Instead of bringing off-island workers, the contractor for the Ta’u Renewable Energy Project, which provides solar energy to power electricity for Ta’u Island, hired 15 local men on the island to do the work.

American Samoa Power Authority contracted California-based Solar City for the Ta’u project, which was commissioned last Thursday morning, where ASPA executive director Utu Abe Malae told the gathering that 15 men on Ta’u island built the solar panels for the renewable project, in which Ta’u’s electricity is now 100% powered by renewable energy.

Asked about the role of the 15men on the project, Solar City’s Pacific region market development director Jon Yoshimura told Samoa News the men did the construction and installation work.

“We used their help to actually build the solar array and do a lot of the site work, a lot of the construction. We couldn’t do it without them,” Yoshimura said last Friday. “They were the people who put the project up.”

As how Solar City would rate the men’s work, Yoshimura said, “first rate and it’s identical to all the projects that we did in Hawai’i and California and as good a project as what we have in Hawai’i and California and other places.”

“They did a fantastic job... we found the expertise right there [Ta’u island] and we didn’t need to bring in off island workers,” said Yoshimura, who also spoke at last Thursday’s commissioned ceremony saying, “iI’s a historic day. We are making history.”

He told the audience that “many hands” went into the development of the project such as ASG, ASPA, and “the people of Ta’u Island. They built [the project]. We work with them, but the hands that build this [project] are all people from Ta’u [island].” His statement prompted applause from the audience.

Yoshimura went on to point out that just like Hawai’i (Yoshimura’s home state), “We use a lot of oil to create electricity. And that oil does not come from here, it does not come from Hawai’i. Many times it doesn’t even come from the United States, it comes from a foreign country. So all the money is going to them.”

After Thursday’s commissioning of the project, “We’ll keep more of that money here, where it belongs,” he said to more applause from the audience.

In his remarks Utu said the plea from the people of Manu’a has been, “Things you do for Tutuila, please do the same for Manu’a.” And Utu said, “We heard that” plea and this is the result, Ta’u getting renewable energy and Ofu by end of next month.

He also said the goal of the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee (ASREC) and ASPA is to have American Samoa 100% renewable energy by the year 2040.

Of the Ta’u renewable project, he said,  It is clean energy, no noise from diesel generators, environmentally safety, and mitigates climate change.” He said the projects use God’s resources to power electricity for Manu’a — in this case — through the sun.

Responding to Samoa News questions, Utu said last Friday that ASPA has 231 customers on Ta’u Island while there are 124 customers on Ofu and Olosega islands. He also said that ASPA “will be emphasizing a preventive maintenance program on the new Ta'u island equipment."

Additionally, “We will also make available five new permanent jobs” on Ta’u island, he added.

Utu credited Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga for his vision in moving the territory into an alternative source of energy to generate electricity, instead of depending on diesel fuel. In turn, Lolo credited Utu and the ASREC for taking the lead after telling Utu almost four years ago to come up with new methods in renewable energy to bring down the cost of electricity — which was about 45 cents or 46 cents for kilowatt hour.