Let’s not miss the tide, says Former President
“Let’s not miss the tide,” said former President Kuniwo Nakamura, urging Palau congress to take action to approve the Power Purchase Agreement recently signed by Palau Public Utilities Corporation to purchase solar generated power from Engie EPS.
“Opportunities like this don’t come every day before us so let’s grab it before we miss the tide,” urged Nakamura during a meeting of the entire leadership of the Republic of Palau yesterday.
Nakamura added that there are risks to everything we do and that we must not be afraid to venture out to face challenges.
“Power cost is a large component of the cost of living in Palauan lives and we must find ways to cut our power cost,” stated former President Toribiong. “When we cut cost of power, you raise the buyer power of every Palauan,” added Toribiong.
Entire national and state leadership convened to seek solutions to what seems to be an impasse between OEK, particularly the Senate which is seeking more concessions out of the agreement.
Senate President Hokkons Baules in his opening statement said that “we support the idea but we need to clarify some of the issues that are of importance to the Republic of Palau before moving forward” on the resolution.
Senator Rukebai Inabo, Chairmain of the Committee on Public Utilities, Communications and Public Housing of the Senate, reported on behalf of the Senate that they believe the tariff in the contract should be lowered to at least 15 cents. She cited IRENA reports that says solar generation costs is going as low as 15 cents per kwh. She added that with declining costs of solar power generation, locking Palau at specific rates will someday mean that others will be paying lower power while we are paying more due to the contract.
Senator Uduch Senior also reporting for the Senate expressed that a law is required in order to enable the waiver of gross receipt taxes to the company as well as giving the Sovereign Guaranty and Sovereign Immunity authority to the President for this project.
“I am glad to hear that none of us is against this project and that we have differences that we can focus on and resolve,” expressed President Remengesau Jr. at this meeting.
He added that multiple studies have been made on Palau’s alternative energy option including this PPA and that JICA, IRENA as well as other expert agencies around the world have given their assessment of Palau’s alternative energy costs and the Engie tariff was the lowest and meet Palau’s energy needs as well as its legal mandate to reach 45% alternative energy by year 2025.
For the legal language concerns raised by the Senate, Senate agreed that they will look for a bill to include the language necessary to approve this PPA.
The issue of tariff continued to be contentious as Senate insisted that the company stands to make a huge profit and should lower its tariff.
President Remengesau said that the company was building about $80-million-dollar worth of investment at no cost to us, operate and maintain it also at no cost to Palau and is not charging inflation rate and therefore, the current contract is fair and a win-win for Palau and Engie EPS.
“I congratulate you for taking the time to be careful for the people of Palau, but let’s not be afraid of the dark because we don’t know what is out there. We can light our way and face challenges,” counseled High Chief Reklai.
Governors and Speakers of the 16 states were also present, giving their support for the project, expressing their constituents concerns over the continuously rising cost of electricity. (L.N. Reklai)