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CCU approves plan to expand power capacity

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An aggressive plan to add 120 megawatts of renewable energy to the islandwide power system within the next five years was approved by the Consolidated Commission on Utilities.  GPA now has the green light to negotiate contracts for utility scale solar systems that would provide an unprecedented 25-percent of Guam's electricity needs.

The CCU gave the okay for GPA to negotiate with top bidders KEPCO and HANWA corporation for two 60-megawatt solar farms, one in Mangilao, the other in Dandan near the first solar facility operated by NRG.  The 120 megawatts is about equal in capacity to Guam's two largest baseload generators, the aging Cabras 1 and 2 units.  GPA general manager John Benavente says they  will discuss a power purchase agreement where the companies foot construction costs, and GPA buys the power from them.  He says fuel cost savings will be substantial.

"You're talking about close to $40 million over the first five years of the contract of fuel savings from there to the current LEAC, just where we're at today. If it rises more than the savings increase," he said.

The deal will include separate battery storage to address the kind of intermittency concerns  GPA is experiencing with the current system. GPA expects to meet the target of 25-percent renewable energy in 2021 - 14 years earlier than required by law. In the process reducing its annual fuel oil needs by more than 30%.

"So you're looking at the next five years, reducing our consumption of fossil fuel by about $1 million barrels or 42 million gallons a year," he said.

A planned combined cycle power plant in Dededo will account for the other 500,000 barrel reduction. The solar deal will still need final approval from the Public Utilities Commission.

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