More money to stay in American Samoa with switch to renewable energy

American Samoa’s Power Authority estimates millions of dollars will be saved each year, as the island nation switches to renewable energy.

Mr Ryan Tuatoo of American Samoa’s Power Authority told the Pacific Resilience Meeting in Suva, there would be a substantial level of savings that could be achieved by the Island nation through the use of green energy in the Pacific.

“We are currently spending USD 48 million on fuel every year so with this solar system we will be saving USD 28 million a year and guess where that money will go, it will go back to our community’s pockets,” Mr Tuatoo said.

“Our goal is to reduce our carbon footprint, reduce the cost of utilities and essentially give the money back to our people.”

In 2016 Tau Island, part of the Manua Island group, was the first in American Samoa to become completely reliable on renewable energy, a project worth USD 8 million.

“One of the reasons why we installed this system in Manua, which is you think we invest so much money into a system when you can do some of the bigger impact on most of the population,” Mr Tuatoo explained.

“With the establishment of the American Samoa Manua Energy Committee (ASMEC) we came up with the goals on 25% by 2020 and 100% by 2040, so we are getting closer.”

Mr Tautoo said that it made sense to finance the small system through government funding but it would be a different story for larger systems.

“For bigger projects were looking at Power Purchasing Agreements where you look for finance from private sector company that’s all into invest and the money it will save on fuel its actually repaying customers.”

The 1.4 megawatt solar farm is backed up by 6 megawatt hours of storage from 60 Tesla Powerpack battery systems and the American Samoa Power Authority said it was able to install 5232 solar panels as part of the system.

Mr Tautoo said there are also standby generators to provide reliability if required, but the saving from the project has been immense.

“They save alone from this small project is about 300 gallons a day of fuel that wouldn’t be burning, that comes up to over 100,000 gallons a year.”

“To help with sustaining this system man side management where we change out everyone’s light pulps into LED light with streetlights to LED lights.”

“The island can be powered for three days with this system if there is no sun. We can use the battery for backup. It’s currently reusing the batteries to power the system at night, so we use fuel as back up, but we don’t use it as much as before, it’s a lot more efficient and better for the environment.”

Mr Tautoo presented during the Low Carbon Development Session on Day two of the Pacific Resilience Meeting.  The inaugural PRM was held in Suva, Fiji from 1 – 3 May, 2019.

Seia Ualesi’s attendance at the Pacific Resilience Meeting was facilitated by the Pacific Media Assistance Scheme (PACMAS) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

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