Troop transition brings big power demands - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Troop transition brings big power demands

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by Michele Catahay

Guam - The movement of thousands of U.S. Marines and their dependents will mean an increase in power demand. The Guam Power Authority is currently looking at the positive and negative impacts the buildup will have on power supply on island.

The Guam Power Authority has been meeting with officials from the Joint Guam Program Office to discuss what's being proposed for the buildup. The bottom lines, says agency spokesman Art Perez, is that GPA is looking to the Department of Defense to fork out the funds to support such a growth in population.

"It's been our position and the [Consolidated Commission on Utilities'] that growth should pay for growth. Those having an impact on the existing community should pay for that impact and that position has not changed. The plans that we provide through JGPO shows that we can deliver power service to their door step," Perez explained.

According to JGPO's Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the estimated total Marine Corps demand is 20.94 megawatts - with the total DoD demand being 123.63 megawatts. It's clear that much work needs to be done to meet the demand anticipated to occur as early as 2015. Perez adds that the ultimate goal is to ensure all communities benefit from the move.

"The EIS also shows there is also going to be a civilian impact with the amount of workforce that will be coming in, the federal employees that may come to Guam, and the families if they live off-base. It will have an impact on the existing civilian community."

Long-term alternatives include the construction of a new power plant at Cabras or even at Potts Junction in Dededo.  Another one involves for GPA to provide the financing and planning for the power generation system. Here GPA would be responsible to plan and implement the necessary generation expansion to support the load. Perez says GPA will be prepared to move forward if in fact they receive the money needed to make such upgrades to the system.

"[At] GPA, plans are already in place. Getting power through their doorstep, there's no problem. It's now a matter of who's paying for it and from what I gather, they're not opposed to paying for the impact. It's just what that cost will be," he said. "In terms of reliability, if it means upgrading substations, then that means power quality to all circuits tied into that will see a significant of power quality, less power outages, better voltage control in the surrounding area."

As for whether building more power plants is the answer, Perez says they would have to look and see whether such a move would work.  "What we need to do is see how that could tie into our power system. You just don't put a power plant anywhere. There's permitting and GPA has over a hundred megawatts of reserve right now. What we need to do, is make sure whatever additional load we may have not only meet that load, but plan for our overhauls and maintenance activities," he added.

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