Young Segaula calls switch to solar power a ‘revolution’

Samoa News
Copyright © 2017 Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

By Blue Chen-Fruean blue@samoanews.com

Students of Manu’a High School, as well as the employees of the American Samoa Power Authority who are ever so thankful for the island’s recent change to solar power

“Go Green” everyday is the goal

When the Manu’a Islands made worldwide news with the announcement of their recent switch to solar power, the project became the perfect topic for kids to write about.

Putting their thoughts and ideas on paper, and through visual presentations like photographs and videos, the goal of the Pacific Storytellers Cooperative and its director, Daniel Lin who believe that the best way to pass information down from generation to generation – which is the traditional Samoan way of preserving history – is to allow the young people to research the information, jot it down, and tell it to the world.

That’s exactly what has happened, since Lin traveled to Manu’a last month and spent a week mentoring a handful of aspiring storytellers from Manu’a High School.

Stories and photographs compiled by the students have been published online and can be viewed at www.maptia.com/manuastorytellers

One of the young authors, Sabrina Patiasa, contributed a short article entitled: “The Solar Revolution” in which she talks about the benefits of the switch to solar power, and how it can be viewed as a first step in “making our island better.”

According to Patiasa, the decision to build a solar power plant in Ta’u, Manu’a “has revolutionized the way our island produces energy today, and in the future.” She said it’s the “first step to many that we can do to make our island better,” and “it has made out community think of possibilities that we can create to ‘Go Green’ everyday.”

Last year, the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), in partnership with SolarCity, introduced ‘the world’s most advanced microgrid,” to provide clean and sustainable energy to ASPA.Called the “Ta’u PV Project” the work came with a price tag of $8 million and was funded by ASPA and the US Department of Interior (USDOI).

The entire project features 1,410 kW of Solar PV panels and 6,000 kWh of battery storage, three new 275 KW Cummins diesel generators, and 480V switchgear.

Ta’u, Manu’a is “one of the first islands in the Pacific to be powered entirely by solar energy,” Patiasa pointed out, adding, “In the past, Ta’u used to be powered by diesel generators. The diesel had to be imported from Pago Pago which was difficult, due to unreliable transportation.”

Patiasa said one of the downfalls of being powered by diesel generators — for them — were continuous power outages, not to mention the pollution it created. “Now we have solar energy powering the whole island, which is reliable and helps the world because we are using renewable energy instead of burning diesel, meaning less pollution.” ASPA employee Fa’gaitu Asoivao Jr. called the Solar Project “a blessing” and told Patiasa that it has made their jobs “easier and less stressful.” Patiasa wrote, “Now our community doesn’t have to deal with power outages, or wait for the boat to bring diesel. This revolution has really benefited Ta’u, Manu’a, and the earth.”

She concluded, “Personally, as a high school student, and as a person who grew up in Manu’a, this solar project has been an amazing accomplishment for our island. It has decreased spending money on electricity bills and paying for diesel. It also reduces the chances of our power going off and damaging people’s electrical appliances. To me, this is very important for the future of our island because now we can begin to think about other ways to be sustainable.”

Patiasa and her four schoolmates who tackled the challenge presented by Lin not only got the opportunity to research the benefits of using solar power, they are now published writers and part of the Manu’a Storytellers group, under the Pacific Storytellers Cooperative.

The Cooperative accepts submissions in all forms from Indigenous Pacific Islanders and residents, including written stories, photos, videos, and poetry.

If anyone wishes to contribute stories to PREL’s Pacific Storytelling Cooperative (storytellers.prel.org), please contact Lin at lind@prel.org

Samoa News
Copyright © 2017 Samoa News. All Rights Reserved

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