Senate hearing with Palau Public Utilities Corporation officials on February 14 at the Old Olbiil Era Kelulau building.

Palau Public Utilities Corporation (PPUC) Board said the recently released Request For Proposal (RFP) for a solar-PV project is in compliance with PPUC’s procurement regulations and the draft PEA regulations at the Senate oversight hearing yesterday.

“The RFP meets PPUC’s procurement regulations and the final draft of PEA Regulations that is being circulated for comments.  Once the bid closes, the feedbacks on draft PEA Regulations have been received and finalized, PEA will have something to base their review of PPUC on,” explained PPUC Director Brian Melarei.

Senate at the oversight hearing yesterday questioned the legality and fairness of the recently released RFP for solar PV project.

PPUC Board assured the Senate that they have had their attorney review the process and have been assured that it was in compliance with PPUC’s procurement regulations as well as the draft PEA regulations currently under APA process.

Furthermore, PPUC Board assured Senate that they’ve taken their concerns into consideration under the RFP.  These concerns include term of 30 years being too long and the need to build local capacity.

According to PPUC technical staff, RFP includes three packages, 1) Eligibility Requirements, 2) Technical Capacity which include plans to build local staff capacity and 3) Financial. Within package 2, it asks for the bidders plan to build local capacity.

Senate President Hokkons Baules expressed concern that Engie EPS may have unfair advantage over other IPP bidders due to the fact that they have had longer interaction with Palau and may have more information than the competition.

PPUC management negated the concern, stating that all bidders will be working with same technical information needed by bidders to base their offers.

Senator Frank Kyota questioned whether PPUC’s newly assembled expert team would have the technical capability to assess proposals and make best decision. He suggested Senate work with PPUC to acquire an expert consultant to assist.  Chairman Decherong welcomed the offer stating that third party expert opinion would provide everyone including Senate confidence on the project.

PPUC Chairman Decherong guaranteed Senate members that there is no other solar-PV proposal or project in front of PPUC Board at this time, contrary to previous assumptions. (L.N. Reklai)