The Guam Power Authority has managed to whittle down the latest round of renewable energy bidders from the initial 12 to just seven qualified proponents. A total of 60 megawatts are available for companies and organizations to take up as part of the utility's second phase of renewable energy integration. Most of the qualified bidders are proposing solar energy and one has even proposed geothermal energy. However, the single bidder for wind energy did not make GPA's short list because it failed to meet bid requirements, according to GPA General Manager John Benavente.

"I heard wind was having trouble getting bonding," CCU Commissioner Simon Sanchez said during a meeting on Nov. 22. "Because Guam is unique, it's never had wind, they're scared of typhoons. I heard the bidders that were trying to bring wind were having trouble getting bonding."

A number of factors make Guam a difficult location for wind energy.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Guam has substantial wind energy potential but the island's seismic activity and seasonal typhoons require engineering to make the turbines resistant to natural roadblocks.

The first phase of GPA's renewable energy program sought to develop about 10 MW of wind power but the contractor – Pacific Green Resources LLC – was ultimately taken off the project for lack of progress. A lone windmill at the Cotal region of Yona, funded through a $2.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office Insular Affairs, remains GPA's single source of utility wind power.

The sole wind energy bidder has asked GPA to reconsider its offer and Benavente said the utility was reviewing the request.

'I'd like to see geothermal'

Wind energy may have potential on Guam but the island has limited geothermal energy resources. This hasn't prevented one company from suggesting up to 10 MW in geothermal power. The concern with geothermal, according to Benavente, is that few entities – including GPA – have been willing to expend the cost needed to explore such energy sources. The cost of a geothermal plant would be determined by the depth of the heat source and there are several other variables to consider, Benavente said. What is certain, he added, is that contracting for geothermal energy would require some type of sunset provision in case it takes too long to utilize the technology.

But even with uncertainty in geothermal energy, some commissioners appeared interested in exploring what has largely been uncharted territory for Guam.

"The other way I think you could do it, especially if the price is right ... make it on top of the 60 MW ... I'd like to see geothermal ... give it a shot," Sanchez said.

"If it comes up dry and doesn't exist, at least we know," CCU Chairman Joey Duenas added.

Price proposals from the bidders are due by Dec. 20. GPA hopes to provide a notification of a successful bidder or bidders to commissioners by January 2017.


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