The Department of the Interior has awarded the U.S. Virgin Islands grants totaling $594,680 out of about $3.5 million allocated to the U.S. insular territories for energy conservation and alternative energy projects. The V.I. funding will go to the University of the Virgin Islands to fund two separate but related energy projects.
The first is to upgrade eleven of its oldest and least efficient air conditioning 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 air conditioning 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. At that level of savings, the projects should pay for themselves in less than a year. UVI estimates the new smart meters installed throughout campus will reduce energy consumption by 10 percent which translates into about $290,000 in annual savings. Combined energy savings for the University are projected to be over one million dollars per year.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke also 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.
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,” Zinke said in a statement. “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,” he said.
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.