EPC favours coal as a cheaper alternative for Samoa’s electricity generation

The EPC’s Chief Executive Officer Tologatā Tile Tuimaleali’ifano

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA: THURSDAY 16 OCTOBER 2014: The Electric Power Corporation (EPC) favours the use of imported coal as an alternative for generating cheap electricity if the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment (MNRE) gives the green light.

EPC Chief Executive Officer Tologatā Tile Tuimaleali’ifano confirmed with Talamua a proposal to consider coal as an alternative is currently with the Government.

“The Government’s aim is for the whole country to have affordable electricity and we are looking at all options to meet that aim,” said Tologatā.

He said this is the reason behind a lot of renewable energy projects and solar systems being put in place to cater for the country.

However, he says it will take a while to realize the full potential of solar powered electricity in the country.

Solar was tried out at Apolima and Manono islands and whilst Apolima relies totally on solar power, Manono Island has returned to electricity fed from the main grids powered through the Fiaga diesel generators.

“An estimation of $1.8 million is allocated to service the four new diesel generators at Fiaga annually which is very expensive,” Tologatā told Talamua.

EPC had tried other renewable energy options such as coconut oil but facing problems as well.

“We have stopped that project because it has created issues with our generators,” said Tologatā.

Now, a proposal to use coal has been submitted and is yet to be discussed by Cabinet.

He did not say where or who the proposal was from but confirmed that coal is a cheaper option and will help reduce the costing.

Samoa’s profile after hosting SIDS and the continuing environmental debate around coal and the Kyoto Protocol yet to be signed by coal producing countries such as Australia will make it difficult for Samoa to accept the proposal.

“MNRE said it is not an environmental friendly product but has not given an official response to the proposal until it is discussed,” said Tologata.

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