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  • By Pacifc Island Times News Staff

GPA: Energy leaseback bill to burden Guam ratepayers

The Guam Power Authority is opposing a bill that would allow Guam’s educational institutions to become non-metered customers and sell solar power to GPA, saying this would result in additional burden to ratepayers.

“While we support the intent of Bill 219-35 to expand solar energy sources, Bill 219 would have unintended consequences of increase rates for non net-metered customers, including low-income, disadvantaged and other households with no opportunity to be net metering customers,” said John Benavente, GPA's general manager.

Bill 219-35 proposes to authorize the purchase or lease-back of renewable energy purchase of service for the Department of Education, the Guam Academy Charter schools, Guam Community College and the University of Guam.” The bill would also allow these institutions to sell excess power they produce to GPA at a premium.

GPA said it would be made to pay 21 cents per kilowatt hour for energy it can produce for 9 cents, which would result in higher rates for non-net metering customers.

GPA said Bill 219-35 essentially creates a government subsidy for government only educational facilities, creating a revenue shortfall that will increase utility rates for more than 47,000 rate payers.

“By providing educational institutions free access and use of the ratepayer’s power grid at no cost, the government is waiving responsibility to repay the millions of dollars borrowed to build, expand and strengthen the island-wide power grid,” GPA said in a statement.

GPA said institutions would realize savings at the expense of all non-solar ratepayers in order to meet GPA’s debt obligations and expenses associated with maintaining and upgradingthe power grid.

“As the largest renewable energy provider on Guam, we support the expansion of renewable energy usage, but we do not support proposals benefitting a select few at the expense of over 47,000 other customers,” Benavente said.

GPA also said the bill would usurp the authority of the Public Utilities Commission.

“Bypassing and circumventing the PUC and GPA, the legislature is arbitrarily raising rates, which is a setting a dangerous precedent. This act in itself is a violation of bond covenants, which was previously approved by the legislature and governor, according to GPA bond counsel Orrick.

“GPA agrees and believes that renewable energy is the key to achieving energy independence and promoting a healthier environment,” Benavente said. “If we are going to meet our goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2035 and 100 percent renewable energy by 2045, we must do it right and in a responsible manner.”

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