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DOE targets energy-saving measures

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With increasing power bills, the Department of Education is exploring ways to save thousands of dollars in energy expenses every year. DOE is the largest Government of Guam agency, spending upwards of $1 million in energy costs every month.

Superintendent Jon Fernandez said that four DOE-leased schools - Okkodo High School, Adacao Elementary School, Liguan Elementary School, and Astumbo Middle School - will benefit from solar energy as soon as this summer. He told KUAM News, "What we're doing with these four schools is executing a power purchase agreement, which means we just basically negotiate a price that we'll be paying for the power produced by the solar panels. The company will be responsible for financing and installing and maintaining the equipment over the course of the agreement, which is 25 years."

The Guam Education Financing Foundation is the company that will provide electricity to DOE at a lower rate than what is currently charged by the Guam Power Authority. This will save DOE roughly $400,000 every year. "That funding we would want to return to the school and to the Facilities & Maintenance Division to help us with the needs that we have on a regular basis, whether it's facility needs or instructional supplies for our kids," Fernandez continued.

"So I think over the course of the 25-year agreement, we're expecting about maybe about $8 million in savings."

However it doesn't end there. DOE is also looking to install solar at its other leased campus, John F. Kennedy High School. The remaining schools owned by DOE would need to proceed through the general services agency before entering similar agreements. "We are working with the General Services Agency," the superintendent confirmed. "They're looking at procurement to get solar energy into the remaining schools that are not leased, and we're looking to them for their guidance on when they want to proceed."

Public Law 32-095, which allows for solar energy in schools, was passed over a year ago. Fernandez said he hopes that data collected from solar installations in the initial five schools will help to determine how to best proceed with the remaining schools.

Additionally, concerned about DOE's power bill is the Guam Department of Education Financial Supervisory Commission. During their most recent meeting it was determined that in January DOE spent $1.1 million for power, while in February it spent $1.4 million. Commissioners discussed the status of DOE's implementation of public law providing for the installation of solar energy in all public schools. A year since the law was enacted GSA has yet to issue the request for proposal.

Procurement advisor Robert Kono says GSA continues to work on the solar energy packet, but could not offer a timeline for completion.

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