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Guam   Guam Profile

Territory Profile and Energy Estimates

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Last Updated: January 20, 2022

Overview

Guam imports petroleum products to meet almost all of its energy needs.

Guam, the largest among the thousands of small western Pacific islands that are collectively known as Micronesia, is located in the Pacific Ocean about 5,800 miles west of San Francisco and 1,600 miles east of Manila, Philippines.1,2 The island became a U.S. territory in 1898. Guam is close to the International Date Line. As a result, it is the first place in the United States to see each new day, which is why Guam is known as the place "Where America's Day Begins."3 Guam has no fossil energy resources and meets nearly all of its energy needs—including the fuel for generating most of its electricity—with imported petroleum products.4,5,6,7 However, Guam is increasing its use of wind and solar resources for electricity generation.8,9,10

Surrounded by coral reefs, Guam sits on the southern edge of the Mariana Trench and is near the Challenger Deep, which lies nearly 7 miles below the surface of the ocean and is the deepest known place on earth. Guam, like the neighboring Mariana Islands, is the top of an undersea mountain, part of a volcanic subsea range stretching northwest toward Japan. At 30 miles long and 4 to 12 miles wide, the territory has about three times the land area of Washington, DC.11,12,13 Guam has a tropical marine climate that is warm and humid with little variation in seasonal temperatures that range between 70oF and 90oF throughout the year. The rainy season runs from May to November and can bring devastating typhoons.14 Guam recorded one of the world's highest measured wind speeds, 230 miles per hour, when Super Typhoon Paka struck the island in 1997.15

Guam has a population of about 169,000, plus about 13,000 military personnel and their families.16,17 Tourism and the U.S. military are generally the two largest contributors to Guam's economy. Tourism typically brings in about 1.2 million visitors annually, most of whom are from Japan. However, the COVID-19 global pandemic kept most tourists away from Guam in 2020 and 2021.18,19 U.S. military plans to relocate thousands of personnel from Okinawa, Japan, to Guam will bring a substantial influx of people to the island.20,21,22,23,24 The military accounts for about one-fifth of Guam's energy consumption.25 Per capita energy consumption on Guam is about half the U.S. average.26,27

Petroleum

Residual fuel, motor gasoline, and jet fuel account for most of Guam’s energy consumption.

Guam has no crude oil reserves, petroleum production, or refineries.28,29 The island's only port, located at Apra, receives all of the petroleum products, which mostly come from Asia.30,31 In 2020, residual fuel oil accounted for about 33% of the petroleum sales on the island, motor gasoline was 24%, and jet fuel was 24%. Diesel oil—used mostly to generate electricity—accounted for about 17% and propane made up the remaining 2% of the island's petroleum sales.32,33 In 2012, the Guam government set a goal to reduce petroleum consumption 20% from 2010 levels by 2020, which was met.34,35 To reach the goal, Guam sought to: increase the efficiency of vehicles on the island; improve traffic flows; reduce vehicle miles traveled; increase biodiesel use; and generate less electricity from petroleum.36

Electricity

The Guam Power Authority (GPA), a public corporation overseen by the elected Consolidated Commission on Utilities (CCU) and regulated by the Guam Public Utilities Commission (PUC), provides all of Guam's electricity. GPA owns and manages the island's electric grid, which is made up of about 1,800 miles of transmission and distribution lines. Residual fuel oil and diesel account for the vast majority of GPA's electricity generation, with renewables accounting for a small share.37,38

About 120 megawatts of solar power generating capacity in Guam is scheduled to come online in 2022.

GPA continues to rebuild and expand its generating assets after an August 2015 explosion and fire at the utility's main Cabras power plant that destroyed two of the station's four generating units.39 GPA lost about one-seventh of its generating capacity, leaving the island with periodic power rationing and localized power outages. GPA asked large hotels, shopping malls, and military facilities to use their own generators when possible, and the power utility leased high-efficiency diesel generators to stabilize its electricity supply.40,41,42 In 2021, GPA received approval from regulators for a new power plant to replace all four of the Cabras generating units, which had a combined generating capacity of 212 megawatts. The new Ukudu power plant, which will have a generating capacity of 198 megawatts and can run on either ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel or natural gas, is expected to be completed at the end of 2023.43,44 Separately, about 120 megawatts of new solar power generating capacity is expected to come online in 2022 and it will help offset the loss of the Cabras plant's generating capacity.45,46

Guam's residential electricity costs, including fuel surcharges, are two times higher than the U.S. average, although Guam's residential electricity rates are typically the lowest among the nearby Pacific islands.47,48 Because petroleum generates nearly all of Guam's electricity, GPA imposes a fuel surcharge that can be adjusted every six months to reflect changes in petroleum costs. Guam's electricity rates increased in mid-2021 after a rise in world petroleum prices. This reversed the mid-2020 decline in power rates that followed a drop in petroleum prices during the global economic slowdown resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.49,50,51

GPA had nearly 52,000 electricity customers in 2020.52 Residential households accounted for slightly more than one-third of Guam's electricity use in 2020. The commercial sector, which includes tourist hotels, restaurants, and private office buildings, accounted for slightly less than one-third of the island's electricity use. The commercial sector was the largest consumer of electricity in 2019, but declined in 2020 after the COVID-19 pandemic curtailed tourism. The U.S. military accounted for one-fifth of electricity use, and the Guam government consumed just over one-tenth.53,54

Renewable energy

In 2019, Guam updated its Renewable Portfolio Standard to have 50% of its electricity sales generated by renewables by 2035.

A goal of Guam's economic development strategy, which began in 2011, is to replace some of its imported petroleum with local renewable energy resources.55,56 In 2008, Guam's legislature enacted a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) to have renewable sources provide 8% of the island's electricity sales by the end of 2020. The renewable goal would increase to 10% of electricity sales by 2025 and to 25% by 2035. In 2019, Guam's legislature updated the standard to require that renewables provide 50% of electricity sales by 2035 and 100% by 2045. The RPS recognizes solar, wind, biomass, wave energy, and ocean thermal energy as acceptable renewable sources to meet the standard.57,58,59 In 2019, renewables accounted for about 6% of Guam's electricity generation.60

Until recently, Guam used little renewable energy for electricity generation on the island beyond a small number of solar PV units (used for cell phone towers and remote weather stations), solar thermal units (used for water heating), and a few small wind generators (less than 5 kilowatts capacity) operated by commercial and residential users.61,62 In 2015, Guam's first commercial solar PV facility—the 26-megawatt Dandan solar farm with more than 120,000 solar panels—began operating.63 The facility can generate enough electricity to serve 10,000 homes.64 The new 60-megawatt Mangilao solar farm and the 60-megawatt Malojloj solar farm are scheduled to be operating in 2022.65,66 Another 40 megawatts of solar power capacity are planned by 2024.67 GPA is also adding battery storage systems to help maintain grid stability as the utility adds more renewable electricity generation.68,69

Guam has substantial wind potential but also has unique wind turbine siting issues. The island is seismically active and is in the Pacific's Typhoon Alley, so wind turbines must be engineered to resist both earthquakes and typhoon-force winds. Wind turbine siting must also consider impacts on military facilities, endangered species, and other local environmental concerns. Another challenge is maintaining reliability of the island's small electric grid given the variability of wind power.70 As a result there is little wind generation in Guam, although wind power remains part of the island's long-term energy plan.71,72,73 In early 2016, GPA inaugurated a wind pilot project—a single 275-kilowatt turbine in the Cotal region of Yona that can generate enough power for 50 homes.74

Guam has limited known geothermal resources, but because the island is in a volcanic region geothermal energy is considered a potential future energy resource.75 In late 2016, one company proposed providing up to 10 megawatts of geothermal power generation, but that project was not selected by Guam's electric utility.76

GPA offers net metering and pays its customers for surplus power they generate from small-scale solar, wind, and other renewable generation installations. The surplus power is distributed on the island's grid.77 Beginning in 2021, the more than 2,000 customers in GPA's net metering program could no longer roll over their excess net metering credits into the next year or cash out their credits.78 Separately, all new net metering systems connected to the gird after June 2020 are required to have energy storage batteries to improve the reliability of electricity supplies.79

Natural gas

Guam has no natural gas reserves and does not produce or use natural gas.80 GPA plans to have a new power plant in service by the end 2023 that is capable of burning either ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel or eventually natural gas from imported liquefied natural gas (LNG) that is regasifed to generate electricity.81,82 The new plant will enable the utility to comply with U.S. federal environmental requirements while using either fuel.83

Coal

Guam has no known coal reserves and does not produce or use coal.84,85

Endnotes

1 Foster, Sophie, and Dirk Anthony Ballendorf, Guam, Encyclopedia Britannica, updated December 8, 2021.
2 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Geography, updated November 19, 2021.
3 Guam Economic Development Authority, About Guam, accessed December 13, 2021.
4 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Guam, 2019 primary energy data in quadrillion Btu, Coal, Dry natural gas, Petroleum & other liquids.
5 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Energy, Electricity-from fossil fuels, Refined petroleum products-imports, updated November 19, 2021.
6 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Guam, Electricity, Generation (billion kWh), 2019.
7 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Economy, Imports-Commodities, 2019.
8 Guam Power Authority, 2021 Integrated Resource Plan, accessed December 14, 2021.
9 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Energy, Electricity-from other renewable sources, 2017.
10 DeRivi, Tanya, "Guam Power Authority bolsters resilience and charts path to 50% renewables," American Public Power Association (May 3, 2021).
11 Foster, Sophie, and Dirk Anthony Ballendorf, Guam, Encyclopedia Britannica, updated December 8, 2021.
12 Guampedia, Geography of Guam, accessed December 13, 2021.
13 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Geography, updated November 19, 2021.
14 Foster, Sophie, and Dirk Anthony Ballendorf, Guam, Land, Encyclopedia Britannica, updated December 8, 2021.
15 "Tropical cyclone projections: changing climate threats for Pacific island defense installations," Weather, Climate, and Society (Volume 11, Issue 1, January 2019), Climate variability, p. 6.
16 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, People and Society, Population, July 2021 estimate.
17 Guam Economic Development Authority, Economic Resources, Military, accessed December 13, 2021.
18 Guam Economic Development Authority, Economic Resources, Visitor Industry, Military, accessed December 13, 2021.
19 Cho, Kelly Kasulis, "In This Remote American Outpost, Pandemic Recovery Is a Faraway Dream," The New York Times (August 25, 2021).
20 Limtiaco, Steve, "Guam, Okinawa governors discuss U.S. Marines relocation," Pacific Daily News (August 30, 2019).
21 Staff Reports, "Marine Corps activates Camp Blaz in Dededo, first new Marine Corps base since 1952," Pacific Daily News (October 1, 2020).
22 Guam Economic Development Authority, Economic Resources, Military, accessed December 13, 2021.
23 "Military: Development of Marine Corps base on Guam on track," The Guam Daily Post (March 30, 2021).
24 Kaur, Anumita, "Guam split on Marine Corps relocation," Pacific Daily News (April 9, 2021).
25 Baring-Gould, Ian, et al., Guam Initial Technical Assessment Report, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-7A40-50580 (April 2011), p. 2.
26 U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Energy Statistics, Guam, Energy indicators in Guam, Energy consumption per capita, 2019.
27 U.S. EIA, State Energy Data System, Table C14, Total Energy Consumption Estimates per Capita by End-Use Sector, Ranked by State, 2019.
28 U.S. EIA, Guam Profile Data, Reserves: Crude Oil, 2019, and Supply: Crude Oil, NPGL, and Other Liquids, 2020.
29 U.S. EIA, Number and Capacity of Petroleum Refineries, Guam, as of January 1, 2021.
30 Port Authority of Guam, About PAG, accessed December 14, 2021.
31 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Economy, Imports-Commodities and Imports-Partners, 2019.
32 Guam Energy Office, Fuel and Power Data Compilation, 2020 Fuel Sales by Petroleum Companies.
33 U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook, Guam, Energy, Electricity from fossil fuels, 2016.
34 Conrad, Misty Dawn, and Sean Esterly, Guam Strategic Energy Plan (July 2013), p. i.
35 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Guam, Petroleum and other liquids consumption (Mb/d), 2010, 2019.
36 Johnson, Caley, Guam Transportation Petroleum-Use Reduction Plan, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-7A30-57191 (April 2013), Executive Summary, p. iii, 1.
37 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, GPA Overview, p. 6.
38 Guam Power Authority, About, Fact Sheet, accessed December 14, 2021.
39 Borja, John, "Guam Power Authority on Long Road to Renewables," Pacific Daily News (May 14, 2017).
40 Daleno, Gaynor Dumat-ol, "Power Supply Vulnerable; More Outages Possible," Pacific Daily News (April 14, 2016).
41 Daleno, Gaynor Dumat-ol, "PUC to GPA: Cut Cost," Pacific Daily News (October 30, 2015).
42 Daleno, Gaynor Dumat-ol, "Rented Power Plant to Go on Line Soon," Pacific Daily News (December 20, 2015).
43 Guam Power Authority, GPA 180: New Power Plant Project, accessed December 17, 2021.
44 McClure, Joyce, "GPA targets November 2023 completion date of Ukudu power project," Pacific Island Times (July 28, 2021).
45 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Technology Optimization, p. 12.
46 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Attachment: Guam Power Authority, Financial Statements, Additional Information, and Independent Auditor's Report, Years Ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, New Generation, p. 2.
47 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Regional Rate Comparison-As of September 30, 2020, p. 8.
48 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Annual 2020 (October 29, 2021), Table 12.6, Guam, Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers (cents per kilowatthour), and Table 2.4, Average Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers.
49 O'Connor, John, "Price of power to decrease starting June 1," The Guam Daily Post (May 30, 2020).
50 Guam Power Authority, Rates, Rate Schedules, Levelized Energy Adjustment Clause as of August 1, 2021, GPA-Docket 21-14, July 29, 2021.
51 O'Connor, John, "GPA fuel surcharge hike to take effect next month," The Guam Daily Post (December 1, 2021).
52 U.S. EIA, Electric Power Annual 2020 (October 29, 2021), Table 12.6, Guam, Number of Ultimate Customers.
53 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Attachment: Guam Power Authority, Financial Statements, Additional Information and Independent Auditors' Report, Years Ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, Annual Electric Sales in KWh, p. 62.
54 Cho, Kelly Kasulis, "In This Remote American Outpost, Pandemic Recovery Is a Faraway Dream," The New York Times (August 25, 2021).
55 Guam Economic Development Authority, Guam Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (2011), p. 36, 37.
56 Conrad, Misty Dawn, and J. Erik Ness, Guam Energy Action Plan (July 2013), p. 1.
57 DSIRE, NC Clean Energy Technology Center, Guam-Renewable Energy Portfolio Goal (updated May 6, 2015).
58 National Conference of State Legislatures, State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, Guam, Enabling Statute or Order: Guam Public Law §29-62, updated August 13, 2021.
59 Cruz, Philip, "A vision of Guam future: Embarking on 100% green energy path by 2045," Pacific Island Times (January 12, 2020).
60 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Electricity, Guam, Generation, 2016-20.
61 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Electricity, Guam, Generation, 2016-20.
62 Baring-Gould, Ian, et al., Guam Initial Technical Assessment Report, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-7A40-50580 (April 2011), p. 18.
63 "NRG Renew Completes Guam's First On-Island Solar Facility," The Weekly Junction (October 12, 2015).
64 Guam Power Authority, 2015 Annual Report, p. 20.
65 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Technology Optimization, p. 12.
66 "Relief for power customers could arrive months from now, thanks to solar energy," The Guam Daily Post (December 1, 2021).
67 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Technology Optimization, p. 12, and GPA Islandwide Power System, p. 14.
68 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Technology Optimization, p. 12, and GPA Islandwide Power System, p. 14
69 "Largest Solar+Storage Lithium Battery to be Built of Pacific Island of Guam," Energy Storage Journal (October 17, 2019).
70 Baring-Gould, Ian, et al., Guam Initial Technical Assessment Report, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, NREL/TP-7A40-50580 (April 2011), p. 30, 31.
71 U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, WINDExchange, Wind Energy in Guam, accessed December 16, 2021.
72 Guam Power Authority, Integrated Resource Plan, FY 2013 (February 22, 2013), p. 7-2.
73 Guam Consolidated Commission on Utilities, Resolution on Updated Integrated Resource Plan (May 24, 2016), p. 1.
74 Losinio, Louella, "Cotal wind turbine back in operation," The Guam Daily Post (January 17, 2019).
75 Guam Power Authority, Integrated Resource Plan, FY 2013 (February 22, 2013), p. 7-3.
76 O'Connor, John, "GPA: Solar, geothermal energy on the table," The Guam Daily Post (November 25, 2016).
77 DSIRE, NC Clean Energy Technology Center, Guam-Net Metering (updated March 19, 2021).
78 O'Connor, John, "Rollover policy ending for net-metering credits," The Guam Daily Post (June 1, 2020).
79 O'Connor, John, "CCU approves battery requirement for solar-powered homes," The Guam Daily Post (February 27, 2020).
80 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Guam, Natural gas reserves (tcf), 2020, Dry natural gas production (bcf), 2020, Dry natural gas consumption (bcf), 2020.
81 Guam Power Authority, 2020 Annual Report, Attachment: Guam Power Authority, Financial Statements, Additional Information and Independent Auditors' Report, Years Ended September 30, 2020 and 2019, Future Borrowing, p. 9.
82 O'Connor, John, "GPA, KEPCO sign power plant agreement," The Guam Daily Post (November 6, 2019).
83 Daily Post Staff, "Justice Department files GPA settlement; agency must pay $400K," The Guam Daily Post (February 10, 2020).
84 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Guam, Coal and coke, Production, Consumption, 2020.
85 U.S. EIA, International Energy Statistics, Guam, Coal and coke, Coal reserves, 2019.