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Am. Samoa to start $2M geothermal drilling in 2014

June 21, 2013

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (AP) — American Samoa will begin drilling for geothermal energy next year as part of a $2.3 million project to reduce its dependence on diesel, the head of the territory’s energy office said.

Director Timothy Jones said the American Samoa Renewable Energy Committee agreed this week to an action plan that calls for aggressive goals toward energy independence, including geothermal on the territory’s main island of Tutuila.

“These goals are aggressive, but achievable,” said Jones, who is also the chairman of the committee.

Jones said his office expects to be drilling its first test wells next year. The project calls for three 6,000-foot test holes to search for heat and steam. The group is seeking federal funding through grants available for renewable energy projects.

Geologists have suggested American Samoa is a good site to test geothermal energy.

“American Samoa is in a perfect location on top of the Ring of Fire,” Jones said.

The territory’s Power Authority says it uses about 1 million gallons of fuel per month for two power plants on Tutuila. It uses another 200,000 gallons of fuel per month on the Manua Islands.

The authority told lawmakers last year that it spends $60 million to $80 million per year on fuel, depending on import costs.

Jones said the territory will fall back on wind and solar energy if its test holes do not find geothermal energy.

The Manua chain of three small volcanic islands plans to be off of diesel fuel completely by October 2016, using the source only as a backup, he said. Officials will begin installing solar panels later this year. A wind project is also planned.

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