No one should doubt that the Guam Power Authority needs more generation capabilities. Growth and development, organic and new, are causing load growth that will be difficult to satisfy without more capacity. This is compounded by the loss of 66 megawatts from Cabras Island’s power plants, the shutdown of Tanguisson Power Plant, and the obsolescence other generation plants. GPA’s need for new, and major generation capacity is indisputable.
However, only time will tell whether the decision to place the island’s primary generation capacity in the middle of Guam’s most populated areas was as well thought out and studied with all other options considered, as GPA, the Consolidated Commission on Utilities and I Mina Trentai Kuatro na Liheslaturan Guahan would like everybody to believe. Only time will determine the wisdom of the decision to build a plant, based on the experience of a Massachusetts suburb, where natural gas is the prevalent and readily available energy source, to the degree that the state of Massachusetts (MEPA) requires the utility to maintain uninterruptible use of natural gas for 358 days of the year, and permits the use of ultra-low-sulfur diesel (ULSD) only for emergencies and only for seven days running total in any given year. In its presentation, GPA notes that the future Guam plant’s primary fuel, at least until natural gas is contracted and available, will be ULSD. So how accurate is its claim that the GPA plant will burn as cleanly as the Massachusetts generators? It seems that GPA’s promise of future rate reductions is dependent on the dream of converting to the use of natural gas. Yet the people have heard nothing of GPA’s proposal to switch to natural gas.
Despite its plans to begin using natural gas in the near future, GPA has not discussed efforts to secure an uninterruptible long-term natural gas contract, the construction and operation of waterfront facilities able to handle liquified natural gas tankers/carriers, the construction and operation of a regasification facility, and most critically, the construction of natural gas storage facilities, and 17 miles of insulated pipeline to transport the natural gas from Cabras Island to Harmon, Dededo.
It seems that GPA is going to commit the people of Guam to natural gas, in the future, but has revealed no plans on how to make this a reality at fair and reasonable rates.
Natural gas is now the cheapest form of fossil fuel in its natural state, but real questions of costs and facilities to get LNG to Guam, storing it, the regasification process and then piping the gas from Cabras to Harmon have yet to be asked and, more importantly, answered. The visions that natural gas will “naturally” result in lower costs and lower rates seems to be a premature wet dream of GPA’s technocrats.
That is why Sen. Clynt Ridgell’s oversight hearing is so vitally important and serious questions beyond ultra-low-sulfur diesel, beyond locating the plant as close as possible to GPA’s Harmon Substation, regardless of its proximity to other vital community resources, must be asked and answered.
Another group of questions which must be asked by I Mina Trentai Singko na Liheslaturan Guahan pertains to the planned location of the new power plant. Were other sites considered? Were efforts exerted by GPA to secure those other sites before settling on the area behind GPA’s Harmon Substation which is located but a stone’s throw away from the Guam Regional Medical City, in plain sight of the Micronesia Shopping Mall, Liguan Terrace Subdivision, and in close proximity to the new Okkodo Senior High School?
What potential effects did the decision on siting have on future plans for other types of development in the vicinity?
Rather than submitting a request to rezone the area to the Guam Land Use Commission, why did GPA choose to submit the rezoning request to I Mina Trentai Kuatro na Liheslaturan Guahan?
Joaquin P. Perez is a resident of Santa Rita.