A proposed project to build a 9.4-megawatt wind power plant might fail to meet a goal to begin supplying power to Guam Power Authority in March next year, a utilities commission official said recently.
Consolidated Commission on Utilities Chairman Joey Duenas said he doubts that a wind-powered power plant would work on the island at all.
In 2013, Pacific Green Resources entered into an agreement with GPA to produce 9.4 megawatts of wind power and 5 megawatts of solar power and sell that energy to GPA.
“They haven’t done anything yet, so I am not very optimistic,” Duenas said. “I’m not very optimistic that they will produce power with wind within that time frame. I don’t know if they ever will.”
A management representative for Pacific Green Resources was unavailable for comment when the Pacific Daily News called. A staff member who answered said the person in charge wasn’t available.
Duenas said two challenges make wind energy on Guam difficult to overcome.
He said wind power generators need vast, open land to provide adequate space between each windmill. On this small island, commercial-scale wind power plants might be tough to pull off, he said.
And for a utility-scale wind power plant to be viable, there must be steady flow of winds – ranging from 12 mph to 28 mph – for efficiency, he said.
Earthquakes and typhoons also add to the obstacles of windmill projects on the island.
“Guam is seismically active and is in the Pacific’s Typhoon Alley, so wind turbines must be engineered to resist both earthquakes and typhoon-force winds,” a report on the U.S. Energy Information Administration website states.
GPA has received a federal grant to build a test windmill at Windward Hills. That project is under construction.
But while the test for wind viability will be conducted, Duenas said “we’re not every optimistic.”
GPA is required by local law to use renewable energy, such as solar or wind, for at least 5 percent of its energy source by the end of this year.
The wind power plant project is to be privately built and funded. The investor would make its money back by selling power to GPA.
Pacific Green also planned to build a 5.6-megawatt solar power plant, but the company sold that part of its contract with GPA to another investor.
A subsidiary of Fortune 250 company NRG Energy has recently completed construction of a 25-megawatt solar power plant in Inarajan.
That solar power plant NRG built, in a partnership that brought the technical expertise of aircraft maker Boeing, has begun providing test energy to GPA, and an official opening of the plant is scheduled for Oct. 7.
Solar energy might be good for the environment but, with falling oil prices, GPA will end up paying more for solar power than heavy fuel oil.
GPA’s agreement with NRG requires the agency to pay 19 cents per kwh of solar power during the first year of their 25-year agreement. Each year, that cost would increase by 1 cent for the next 24 years.
Oil prices have been decreasing, and because of the oil price drop in July, GPA’s fuel cost translates to about 10 cents per kilowatt hour, Duenas said.
“It is gong to be a negative; It is going to cost us money,” Duenas said of solar power compared with recent fuel oil prices.
GPA has invited bidders to submit another round of renewable energy project proposals, which would lead to the production of 40 megawatts of energy by one or multiple investors.
Most, if not all, of the proposals submitted are for solar power, Duenas said.
The names of the bidders haven’t been released because GPA and the prospective bidders are still negotiating.
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