Sen. Amanda Shelton on Monday opened the discussion to the possibility of setting a hundred percent renewable energy goal, taking a cue from other U.S. jurisdictions that are attempting to fast-track their respective goals to generate all of their electricity from renewable sources between 2040 and 2050.
“We shouldn’t just go from one type of fossil fuel to another,” Shelton said after a public hearing on her Bill 80-35, which proposes to set Guam’s energy portfolio target to 50 percent renewable energy by 2035, double the goal set by the Guam Power Authority.
“We can push the envelope even further and really preserve our natural resources and our financial resources for our children and future generations,” Shelton said.
GovGuam first set a renewable energy goal in 2008 when former senators Ben Pangelinan, Jim Espaldon and BJ Cruz passed Public Law 29-62 to set a goal of 25 percent renewable energy by 2035. At the time, GPA had no renewable energy in its portfolio.
Currently, 6 percent of GPA’s energy portfolio comes from renewable energy. The solar farm contracts approved last year will bring 120 MW online for GPA by 2022, meeting the 25 percent renewable energy target 13 years early.
“With this goal being achieved, now is the time to think boldly and raise that goal even further,” Shelton said. “As an island, we cannot ignore climate change because it affects us and our regional island neighbors the most. Initiating this long-term planning is the key to achieving a greener future.”
In 2015 the Hawaii Legislature passed a law requiring 100 percent of its electricity to come from renewable resources by 2045. Maine and Puerto Rico recently passed 100 percent renewable energy targets for 2050. The District of Columbia passed the same goal by 2032. California, New Mexico and Washington all passed bills in the last 12 months that require 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2045. New York requires the same by 2040. Nevada established a voluntary 100 percent carbon-free goal by 2050. Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina and Wisconsin are currently debating similar measures.
Like many island nations, Guam is highly dependent on imported fossil fuels—nearly all the island’s electricity is generated using imported petroleum products. This leaves it vulnerable to global oil price fluctuations that can directly impact the cost of electricity
“The use of solar energy and other renewable energy sources will result in lower power bills, a cleaner environment, and lower dependence on foreign oil. GPA spends nearly $200 million a year in annual fuel costs, money that goes from our local ratepayers and is shipped overseas,” Shelton said.