Secretary Zinke Announces $3.5 Million in Energy Grants for American Samoa, Guam, Northern Marianas and U.S. Virgin Islands

Assistance will Develop and Explore Energy Sources, Reduce Costs,

Increase Energy Self-Sufficiency in Territories

Last edited 10/26/2022

WHITEFISH, MT (June 27, 2017) – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today informed American Samoa Governor Lolo Moliga, Guam Governor Eddie Calvo, and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Governor Ralph DLG Torres that he has approved a total of $3,489,427 in energy grants for their respective territories. The Secretary and the Governors were attending the Western Governors Association meeting in Montana.  In addition the Secretary announced energy grants for the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). 

American Samoa will receive $1,163,228, Guam $1,072,827,  the Northern Mariana Islands $658,692, and the U.S. Virgin Islands $594,680 for a variety of projects across the territories that will create immediate energy efficiencies, reduce high costs of fossil-fuel dependency, and explore other alternatives towards energy self-sufficiency. 

"We recognize that the cost of electricity in the U.S. territories is three times higher, on average, than the U.S. national average,” said Secretary Zinke. “The energy needs of the territories are unique and I am pleased to help bring them into focus as President Trump highlights energy strategies across America during Energy Week.”  

Thirty-four applications, totaling more than $18 million dollars, were submitted for consideration to the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs.  The Empowering Island Communities grant funding as provided annually by the U.S. Congress is about $3 million.

Because the USVI is not a member of the Western Governors Association, Governor Kenneth Mapp did not attend the meeting. However, the Secretary did travel to the USVI for its Centennial Commemoration in March where he met with the Governor and is scheduled to meet him again sometime in July.

AMERICAN SAMOA ($1,163,228) three projects

$817,528 to the American Samoa Power Authority to purchase and install additional photovoltaic panels and battery storage on Ofu/Olosega in the Manu’a Islands to increase solar energy production to meet the community’s present demand for energy.  With this grant funding, ASPA will add additional 150kW photovoltaic panels and 500 kWh of battery storage, significantly reducing the need for diesel generators, and bringing the Manu’a Islands closer to their goal of 100% Renewable Energy.

$312,000 for the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA) to further upgrade its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system for water distribution on the capital island of Tutuila, reducing energy consumption and waste.  Funds will be used to purchase, install and commission Remote Terminal Units at 38 of ASPA's water wells and 2 Booster Stations.  ASPA estimates the overall project will result in a reduction of non-revenue water from 60% to 50%, which equals a total cost saving of $760,000 to the territory.

$33,700 for the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee (ASREC) to fund a coordinator and public education projects focused on reducing fuel imports. The ASREC has been successful in developing the territory’s vision and meeting its goals for reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels, one example of which is the Manu’a Islands 100% Renewable Energy Initiative (see first project).  The coordinator will further the mission by also assisting the Territorial Energy Office, the American Samoa Power Authority, the Department of Public Works and other offices as needed.  Public education and outreach will be coordinated with the American Samoa 350 Environmental Club composed of high school honor students directly involved in environmental and energy education through small energy projects, STEM conferences, and renewable energy mini-courses.

GUAM ($1,072,827) three projects

$548,827 for Guam Department of Public Works (DPW) to install roof-mounted photovoltaic  systems (169 kW size) on three of its buildings. DPW expects to realize a cost savings of $76,451 per year with an estimated 52% reduction in energy consumption. The project will assist the Government of Guam, which is experiencing financial shortfalls, in meeting daily operations and reducing its dependence on imported fossil fuels in response to Governor Calvo’s Executive Order No. 2012-01 calling for fiscal stabilization, deficit reduction and cost containment.

$40,000 to the Guam Regional Transit Authority to purchase and install 20 LED street-light solar panel systems for 20 individual bus-stop locations throughout the island. Currently, the bus stops have little or no lighting, raising safety concerns.  The solar panel systems will light bus stops in Dededo, Tamuning, Harmon, Mangilao, Agat, Maite, Merizo, and Yigo at schools, public tourist locations, the hospital, shopping malls, the Guam Retirement Office, and other high use public areas.

$484,000 to the Guam General Services Agency (GSA) for the two-fold purpose to: 1) conduct an American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers  Level III energy audit to identify ways to cut energy costs; and 2) carryout immediate energy efficiency measures by replacing air-conditioning and lighting units, and installing a roof-mounted photovoltaic system on the GSA warehouse facility.  Efficiencies were identified previously for this project by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and funded by the Department of the Interior with guidance and cooperation of the Guam Energy Task Force.

NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS ($658,692) two projects

$489,807 for the Northern Marianas College (NMC) to install roof-mounted photovoltaic (PV) systems (139 kW size) on three campus buildings, reducing energy costs and dependence on fossil fuels.  The PV systems will be installed on three buildings that have been demonstrated to take up 30% of the college’s energy consumption.  NMC expects to realize an annual cost savings of $37,764 at an estimated 70% reduction in energy costs for the three buildings. This proposal is identified and supported in the CNMI strategic energy plan.

$168,885 to the CNMI Government to acquire professional expertise and create a feasibility study on the potential for extraction of methane gas from the Marpi Landfill and the Eloy S. Inos Peace Park, formerly known as the Puerto Rico Dump on Saipan. The study will be used to quantify the approximate amount of gas produced and the amount to be extracted over time, and provide a database for future reference, providing CNMI leaders with viable information and a cost-benefit analysis to determine the advantage of potentially using methane biogas fuel to reduce reliance on imported fuel.

U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS ($594,680) two projects

$594,680 to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) to fund two separate but related energy projects.  The first is to upgrade eleven of its oldest and least efficient HVAC units with newer cooling technology and the second is to install Smart Meters on all buildings for more effective accounting of the university's energy use and informed crafting of energy policy. The newer HVAC units will be installed on the School of Nursing Building, and Sports and Fitness Center among other academic and administrative buildings with an estimated annual cost savings of $904,000.  The UVI estimates the new smart meters installed throughout campus will reduce energy consumption by 10% which translates into approximately $290,000 in annual savings. Combined energy savings for the University are projected to be over one million dollars per year.

The Secretary of the Interior is responsible for coordinating federal policy with respect to the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance provided to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association. The Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) executes these responsibilities on behalf of the Secretary. OIA’s mission is to foster economic opportunities, promote government efficiency, and improve the quality of life for the people of the insular areas.



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