By Mar-Vic Cagurangan
The Guam Power Authority's stalled solar farm projects on military properties leased by the Navy are likely to be mothballed anew to pave the way for the Department of Defense's proposed missile defense system for Guam.
"Defending Guam is going to take a significant amount of upgrades to our base infrastructure, which means that some of the real estate we were hoping to lease to GPA is now needed to meet developing critical mission requirements," said Adm. Ben Nicholson, commander of Joint Region Marianas.
Nicholson met with GPA General Manager John Benavente this week to start the discussion on modifying their current plan for the "energy enhanced use" lease agreement to meet the "emerging requirements" to beef up Guam's missile defense capabilities.
The Navy and GPA signed the lease agreement in 2017, covering a total of 164 acres of land in separate sites for renewable energy projects.
The leased properties include four sites totaling 93 acres on Naval Base Guam and 71 acres on Route 3 in South Finegayan.
Based on the current agreement, these military-owned properties would be the sites of photovoltaic installations which GPA proposed to build in partnership with the Navy.
A 40-megawatt solar project in South Finegayan, which was awarded to Engie Solar, has been hindered by a procurement protest filed by the losing bidder, GlidePath Marianas.
The Supreme Court has eventually upheld GPA's procurement decision, but
the project is facing another delay -- if not possible cancellation.
The proposed location of the 40MW solar project is on the Missile Defense Agency's list of possible sites for an integrated missile defense infrastructure consisting of multiple mobile components, such as a sensor, command and control and interceptors that will be located across Guam.
JRM said real estate teams "are taking a hard look at various sites on federal property with the intent to construct renewable energy projects such as solar farms."
Military officials said the $1 billion missile defense system will provide Guam 360-degree protection against any potential threats.
"This region is the priority theater for the Department of Defense, and Guam
plays an important strategic role in our promise to ensure a free and open
Indo-Pacific," Nicholson said.
"We know how important renewable energy and alternative sources of power are
for the island community. We remain committed to our partnership with GPA, and will continue to work with the local government to identify future locations that might be viable for the energy enhanced use lease," he added.