CONCERNED RESIDENTS SPEAK ABOUT WIND FARM PROJECT
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
By: Tosimaeʻa Tupua
Whether offshore wind farms are ecological problems or environmental solutions, is a multifaceted debate that reoccurs globally. The sentiment home, is where the heart is, was evident in the weekend at a community meeting, related to a proposed wind energy development in American Samoa.
Wind farms aren’t actually a new concept; the idea of wind farms has been around since as far back as the 1800’s. However, even back then wind farms alone were not enough to meet the needs of our power demands, we wanted electricity and we wanted it instantly. So the idea of wind farms was scrapped in favor of fossil fuels. Fast forward over a hundred years and wind farms are back on the agenda due to ever depleting fuel resources. The wind turbine project earmarked for American Samoa will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and it comes with a price tag of $100 million with construction planned for 2024. At a community meeting hosted by TWE and ASPA last weekend, Ryan Tuatoo told those attending that wind power has much more price stability than traditional fossil fuels as wind is free.It also helps bring life to our villages and creates more green energy jobs.
The majority of the people who attended the meeting are concerned about what they described as a lack of study taken by TWE or ASPA to gather critical information concerning the actual impact of the wind farm project on the environment, especially the land in Manunu.
A woman who got the chance to speak said she grew up in the area. There is a lot of history in that area and she warned not to destroy it for the sake of building a wind farm. A resident of Aloau said she is aware of reports that birds and bats are killed each year by wind turbines due to collisions with the blades.
A resident of Malota said, the noise produced by wind farms can also be extremely disruptive to communities. Ryan Tuatoo of ASPA said, ASPA has met with village councils and chiefs directly impacted by the wind turbines to get acceptance for such a project on their lands. He continued, “ASPA had entered into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with TWE to supply 42 MW's (mega-watts) of “renewable wind power to help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to help significantly lower our electricity rates.”The project cost will be over $100 million and as part of the PPA, the contractor is providing 100% financing, engineering, construction, operation and management of the wind turbine farm.
Tuatoo said, instead of buying fuel monthly at fluctuating costs and burning the fuel in the ASPA generators, ASPA will buy clean wind energy from TWE at a low and fixed price.