Obligation includes funds for turbines in case electric system collapses
SAN JUAN – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in coordination with the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, or COR3, obligated more than $ 26.2 million in funds to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) under the Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.
The funds are for the engineering and design phase to install a new combined cycle generation plant at the Palo Seco Energy Plant and to acquire 11 gas turbines to be installed in five additional PREPA facilities, the agency announced Wednesday.
“Mitigation is essential for the successful recovery of the island and for facing disasters in the future. These funds help to lessen the effects of natural events that affect our communities, ”said Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, José Baquero Tirado.
With a total of over $ 13.5 million, the design of this generation plant at Palo Seco “will help reduce economic losses by cutting down the recovery time after power outages,” FEMA said. Currently, this facility located in Toa Baja has an operational capacity of approximately 343 megawatts. The work to be completed is expected to increase the capacity to more than 700 megawatts, “which will benefit 1.5 million customers across the island.”
Meanwhile, $ 12.7 million is earmarked for the design of 11 gas turbines to be installed at PREPA plants in Vega Baja, Daguao, Yabucoa, Jobos and Palo Seco. These turbines will improve redundancy and resiliency of the existing electrical grid during emergencies.
“This engineering and design phase allows PREPA to begin the first projects that will lead to a more resilient electrical system against atmospheric events on the island. We continue to work together with our peers to achieve the funding obligations, and more importantly the execution of these for the benefit of our clients, ”commented PREPA’s Acting Executive Director, Efran Paredes Maisonet.
After this initial design phase, additional funding for construction costs may become available for both projects, the agency said.
“FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grants Program (HMGP) goal is to ensure that the opportunity to take critical mitigation measures to reduce the risk of loss of life and property from future disasters is not lost during the reconstruction process following a disaster,” the release reads.
To date, HMGP has funded over $ 52 million for Puerto Rico’s resiliency after hurricanes Irma and María.
“Our electrical power system has suffered significant damage from the natural events we have experienced. With the federal allocations for the reconstruction of the Island and with the funds assigned for hazard mitigation we will be able to develop a system that can withstand or suffer less damage in case of future disasters, ”expressed COR3’s Executive Director, Ottmar Chávez.
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By Martin Abel, Assistant Professor of Economics, Middlebury
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University of Puerto Rico has been awarded $ 130.6 million