“That is also my advice to all these people who propose new projects that are like dreams that never come true.”
The Member of Parliament for Gagaemauga No.2 wants an update of the $50m Solar Project launched at Faleolo in June this year.
At the time, Samoa was claiming to be the first Pacific country to go solar in an attempt to keep electricity costs down.
However in the meantime, Tonga whose project was fully funded by the New Zealand and Japanese governments, started generating electricity on 1 July from its1.3MW solar plant at Tongatapu.
“On 1 August, the Tonga government officially declared a drop in electricity costs for its people, Levao polo said.
It only took few months for the Tonga government to get it up and running, he added.
The project in Samoa is a partnership between Sunlogics Power and Daystar’s Eco Energy Solutions (Australia) Pty Limited together with Solar Samoa Limited their local partners and the Electric Power Corporation (EPC).
Levaopolo Talatonu said that he has discovered that work has ground to a halt over the issue of non-payment to local contractors.
“The excavators which were being used for this multi-million solar project have now been idle for seven weeks,” Levaopolo said.
The local contractors, who wish to remain anonymous, stopped work after two weeks ago because they hadn’t been paid since the project was launched, they said.
The four-acre solar farm, which is expected to generate 1.75 megawatts a year and further reduce Samoa’s reliance on fossil fuel, would benefit the country in many ways.
It is located on a land leased from Samoa Airport Authority and employment was also promised for at least 50 local workers.
The completion date negotiated was six months from June.
Levaoplo said it saddens him that this appears to be yet another promised project for the benefit of Samoa, not going ahead .
“I just can’t take it anymore. These foreign investors to me personally are gamblers, and what I mean is that they invest here with the intention to take millions of tala profit from our economy,” Levao said.
“The Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi has said he wants no more foreign investors with words, but ones with actions.
“I agree. That is also my advice to all these people who propose new projects that are like dreams that never come true.”
Levao said: “It was five years ago that Solar Samoa Ltd prepared a feasibility study and came up with sustainable resources. That included funds to implement this vital project of solar electricity to relieve us from the high cost of fuel as soon as they could and yet we still see nothing.”
“The Government through EPC has approved and given Solar Samoa Ltd the mandate to produce and sell back solar power to EPC at 77cents /unit.
“The existing price of electricity from EPC is 84cent/unit.”
“I understand the required resources for this project are still available, ie solar panels are everywhere, we have the engineering skills and experience in Samoa so everything except the funds I guess.”
This type of project is not cheap and I don’t think that Solar Samoa can handle it without solid financial assistance. I suspect that they are still struggling to get funds and unfortunately holding back other companies who would like the opportunity to do something similar for Samoa.”
“The government must give Solar Samoa a limited period of time to action this project, or retender it,” Levao believes.
Levao’s advice to the government believes the project would have been well underway if it was carried out by the government.
He said the Samoa USD$100m soft loan from ADB was approved in 2009 for renewable energy projects. Some of this fund, roughly USD$36M was allocated to the construction of a new power plant at Fiaga and the remainder left for other opportunities
So why are we waiting for the Solar Samoa to do this project, he asked.
This is exactly what our people really need if our government really takes helping our people as a serious priority,” Levaopolo concluded.
Repeated attempts to get an interview with the Chairman of Solar Samoa Ltd, Oloipola Terrance Betham last week and yesterday were unsuccessful.
He said he would call back when he was available, because he had urgent meetings.