October 5, 2016

Guam Renewable Energy Bill Gets Mixed Reaction

While renewable energy producers supported the intent of Bill 363-33, the Guam Power Authority and regulatory agencies expressed concerns over certain provisions included in the measure, which seeks to require the utility agency to develop and file a proposed community-based renewable energy tariff for virtual net metering subject to public utilities commission approval.

Also known as the “Community Equal Access to Affordable Renewable Energy Act of 2016,” the measure introduced by Sen. Dennis Rodriguez seeks to implement a community-based program which it calls a “virtual net metering” by dramatically expanding the market for eligible renewable energy resources to include residential and business renters, occupants of residential and commercial buildings with shaded or improperly oriented roofs, and other groups who are unable to access the benefits of onsite renewable energy generation.

According to the measure, broader participation in self-generation by Guam residents and businesses will be done through the “development of community-based renewable energy facilities by which participants are entitled to generate electricity and receive credit for the electricity on their utility bills.”

The bill also requires GPA to update the island’s current Renewable Portfolio Standards, or RPS, upping the original goal of 5 percent of net electricity sales by Dec. 31, 2017, to 10 percent; 15 percent by the end of 2022; 20 percent by the end of 2027; 25 percent by the end of 2032; and 30 percent by the end of 2037.

Several renewable energy providers submitted positive testimony on the bill. Joe Rosario, marketing director of Micronesia Renewable Energy, said how virtual net metering is implemented can be discussed once the bill is passed.

“Focus on the intent, whether or not you are going to support this measure,” Rosario said. “I strongly believe that your decision on whether to vote for or against this bill should be decided based on the number of island residents that will benefit. If we are going to talk about renters of homes, apartments, condominiums, those with tin-roof structures, then we are looking at thousands when we include their family. Do the math.”

Karl R. Rábago, principal at Rabago Energy LLC and executive director of the Pace Energy and Climate Center at the Pace Law School in White Plains, New York, said in written testimony that the draft legislation marks a significant step forward in clean energy policy for Guam. He added the legislation “will provide a foundation for accelerated growth and reliance on clean energy for the island, and will establish Guam as a leader in showing the way for responsible management of its energy future and its climate footprint.”

For the power authority and regulatory agencies, there are several provisions in the bill the should be addressed or clarified.

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