GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres, Lieutenant Governor Arnold I. Palacios, Education Council members, Acting Education Commissioner Eric M. Magofna and other officials launched the solar power system on Thursday of the public school system.
The ceremony, which took place in the cafeteria of Marianas High School, marked the start of PSS’s “journey to a [energy] alternative, ”said Magofna, adding that the PSS is the first school system in the region to use green energy technology on a large scale,“ so we are very happy ”.
The solar power system will be installed by Micronesia Renewable Energy Inc. or MRE under a power purchase agreement.
There is no cost to PSS for the initial installation of solar panels and other equipment.
Magofna said the PSS would only start making payments to MRE once the system starts producing electricity and schools start using the electricity produced by the solar panels.
This will look like PSS’s monthly utility bills, but with significant savings for the school system, he added.
PSS’s finance and budget director Arlene Lizama said PSS spends around $ 2 million a year on electricity while still being connected to the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation power grid.
She said once the solar power system is ‘kicked in’ the estimated savings will amount to $ 1 million. [a year].
In a separate interview, Jeffrey Voacolo, COO of MRE, said installing the school system’s solar power system “is a multi-million dollar project.”
He added, “We are extremely fortunate to have secured funding from a local bank, Bank of Guam. We are very fortunate.”
PSS’s solar power system will “transform” all 20 primary, secondary and secondary school campuses in Saipan, Tinian and Rota into “renewable energy hubs,” Magofna said.
PSS, he added, issued a call for tenders in January 2020. Of the six companies that responded, the MRE proposal was chosen by PSS, which entered into a power purchase agreement or PPA with the company in March 2020.
BOE approved the project in July 2020.
“Now here we are today, alongside Micronesia Renewable Energy, launching our solar energy project by installing our solar energy systems in all of our schools. I am happy that with this PPA with MRE this is now becoming a reality, ”Magofna said on Thursday.
“PSS is the first school system in the region to take the initiative in solar power,” he added.
For his part, BOE President Andrew L. Orsini said: “This is an important step for PSS and CNMI. “
“This is historic for PSS,” he added, recalling the enactment of public law 18-75 six years ago to “prioritize interconnection with net metering for health and capacity education renewable energies “.
Orsini praised former Senator Pete P. Reyes who drafted the law, Senator Paul A. Manglona who co-sponsored it and the then governor. Eloy S. Inos for signing the measure.
Orsini also recognized former BOE President Janice A. Tenorio. He said it was under his leadership when the project proposal was presented and approved by the board last year.
For his part, Tenorio said the board wanted the PSS to be a “model” for the entire CNMI in green energy.
The governor congratulated PSS and BOE “for this great initiative”.
He added: “It’s monumental in the sense that we are showing the world that we can harness solar energy… for our public schools,” while thanking MRE for investing in CNMI.
Voacolo, who has worked in the energy infrastructure business for 45 years now, said the PSS solar power system “will be showcased not only across Micronesia but around the world.”