Buildup won't strain utilities
Bice: Guam has chance to add capacity
By Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Daily News
The U.S. military's multibillion-dollar buildup will not strain the island's power, waste-disposal and water plants, the official who oversees the expansion said yesterday.
What the buildup can present is an opportunity to add capacity to the island's utilities infrastructure, said retired Marine Maj. Gen. David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office. The office is in charge of planning, managing and overseeing buildup-related projects.
"We have the opportunity to add to (the utilities capacity) in all the areas," Bice said.
"In fact, we don't want to add the burden on the (existing local utilities plants). What we will see is an addition to the Guam utilities," Bice added.
Bice also confirmed yesterday that a high-level delegation from the Japan Diet is visiting Guam in connection with the Japanese government's part in the buildup.
The Japanese government will help pay for the relocation of members of the U.S. Marines and their families from Okinawa -- altogether a jump in Guam's population by about 16,000.
Under a U.S.-Japan agreement, Japan will pay 60 percent of the $10 billion to $14 billion cost of the relocation, Bice said.
In Japan, wire reports state that U.S. Ambassador to Japan J. Thomas Shieffer and Deputy Commander of Pacific Command Lt. Gen. Daniel Leaf are hosting the Japanese Diet delegation's two-day Guam visit, which starts today.
The delegation, Bice said, is visiting "to see what's going on, what the assessment is, see where the Japanese money is proposed to be spent, and make their own determination (whether it's) a wise investment for the Japanese people."
In anticipation of increased use of power, water and wastewater services related to the military buildup, Guam's locally elected officials have said they would ask the federal government for financial assistance to upgrade local utilities plants.
"The way this is gonna work," said Bice of the utilities-related funds for the buildup, is that the Special Purpose Entity -- established in the U.S.-Japan agreement -- "would provide equity investment for a business partner to come in and potentially provide" power, water and waste-management services.
The services that the business partner might provide could include building a power plant and adding to utility distribution and delivery lines, Bice said.
Another option, Bice said, may involve entering into a partnership with the Guam Power Authority.
The U.S. has held technical talks with Japanese government officials and Guam public utilities officials, Bice said.
Engineers are completing their studies, and there will be a meeting in Washington, D.C., next week about Guam infrastructure issues, Bice said.
A preliminary report is expected around April, he said, that would assess the capabilities of Guam's power and water agencies.
"From that, we will look at our options," he added.
But what's clear, Bice emphasized, is that the military receives "good, reliable" utility services.
"It is a mission-readiness requirement," he said.