Sen. Amanda Shelton's Bill 80-35, aimed at raising the amount of Guam’s electricity produced by 2035 from the current goal of 25% to 50%, received general support during a public hearing Monday afternoon.
Joe Rosario, a business development director for Micronesia Renewable Energy, said he supports the intent of the bill but added greater emphasis should be placed on distributed generation – smaller sources of solar energy on rooftops – rather than a solar farm.
Distributed solar vs. one big solar farm
Distributed solar has its advantages compared with a solar farm. A 40-megawatt solar farm would need 160 acres of land and the same amount of power can be generated from 4,000 residential rooftops and zero additional land, Rosario said.
Spreading solar energy among various residents also presents an advantage during typhoons, as concentrating solar generation in one area would make it vulnerable to storms, Rosario said.
The Consolidated Commission on Utilities has adopted a resolution supporting Bill 80, at the recommendation of the Guam Power Authority.
Current law sets the renewable energy goal at 25% by 2035.
While the current renewable energy portfolio is about 6%, upcoming projects, such as two separate 60-MW solar energy contracts and a solar project to be built on military property, are set to bring the utility up to 25% 13 years ahead of schedule.
Shelton: ‘We cannot ignore climate change’
"With this goal being achieved, now is the time to think boldly and raise that goal even further," Shelton stated in a release. "As an island, we cannot ignore climate change, because it affects us and our regional island neighbors the most. Initiating this long-term planning is the key to achieving a greener future."
Shelton also took the opportunity to discuss the possibility of moving to 100% renewable energy, like the direction being taken by Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other jurisdictions.
"We shouldn’t just go from one type of fossil fuel to another," Shelton stated in her release. "We can push the envelope even further and really preserve our natural resources and our financial resources for our children and future generations."
However, to go beyond 25%, GPA has expressed the need for the new 198 MW fossil fuel power plant, for both frequency regulation and power reliability, as well as infrastructure upgrades.