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  • Writer's pictureBy Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Are the days of power monopoly coming to an end?

With power rates continuing to spiral out of control, more and more Guam residents are switching to renewable energy, so much so that the “alternative” is now moving faster into the mainstream.

“When we first came to Guam, solar energy was considered an alternative energy choice of power, but today, with vast amounts of monies that have been spent on research and development over the last several years solar energy is classified as a main energy power source,” said Jeff Voacolo, vice president of Generation Renewable Inc. (GRI), formerly known as Micronesia Renewable Energy.

GRI said it has installed more than 2,000 solar energy systems on island since the company opened on Guam nine years ago.

“The shift has begun from a fossil-fuel energy-driven world to our clean sustainable future. Generation Renewable Inc. will be building a sustainable grid along with a sustainable community,” said GRI president Tracy Voacolo.

GRI president Tracy Voacolo speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the corporate headquarters in Harmon. Standing next to her is vice president Jeff Voacolo. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

GRI held a ribbon-cutting at its Harmon headquarters on Monday, officially marking the company’s expansion and launch of its new corporate structure.

GRI will be publicly traded, with initial public offerings anticipated to begin in September.

“This will enable our firm the necessary resources for expansion along with the ability to have our employees who place their trust and hard work in the company to also become owners in the company," GRI said in a written statement read by Tracy and Jeff at the ceremony.

"This also gives our customers and the community of Guam an opportunity to own part of our company, benefiting from the growth and success of a local company,” GRI said in a written statement read by Tracy and Jeff at the ceremony.

Tracy and Jeff Voacolo said GRI "will be viewed as a global company not limited to the Micronesia region; Guam will always be our home base, but growth requires change and to demonstrate that our reach goes beyond our blue waters."

The GRI executives, who have been in the solar energy and energy infrastructure business for over 35 years, said they have seen a lot of vast changes in technology over the past nine years.

From left, GRI president vice president Jeff Voacolo, Guam Chamber of Commerce president Catherine Castro, GRI president Tracy Voacolo, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, Lt. Gov. Josh Tenorio, Sen. Clynt Ridgell and Sen. James Moylan. Photo by Mar-Vic Cagurangan

Technological advancements have even opened up a DIY option for consumers, allowing them to run their own microgrid.

“Now you can generate your own power, store this power for backup and nighttime use and also use your solar energy for transportation, imagine not paying for fuel ever again. This is a reality now,” Jeff Voacolo said.

The inverter and battery technology, for example, allows households to back up their residences and become their own power plant.

“You can now produce and consume your power at the point of generation, your home,” Jeff Voacolo said. “The days of a centralized power plant are coming to an end. If you are generating your own energy, storing this energy for nighttime use, and recharging your batteries during the day, you will never have to rely on a centralized grid for storms or power outages ever again.”

Power rates on Guam increased in February from 17.3 cents per kWh to 19.7 cents per kWh and the Consolidated Commission on Utilities has approved the Guam Power Authority's newly proposed rate increase from the current 19.7 cents p/kWh to 25.4 cents p/kWh.

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