SAN JUAN – The Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is preparing to use $ 10 billion of federal funds destined for the recovery of hurricanes to favor the fossil fuel industry to the detriment of the best interests of Puerto Rico.
In a ten-year plan presented in December and discussed last Monday, January 11, before the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, the public corporation tried to justify its determination, which violates public policy and its own Integrated Resource Plan (PIR), denounced the group of organizations that promoted the proposal We want Sun.
“This federal funds plan is a setback in the system’s transition to renewable energy. We see that the Electric Power Authority is wasting a unique opportunity to use this multi-million dollar investment in photovoltaic systems on roofs of residences or businesses, as proposed in Queremos Sol, and instead insists on fossil fuels and a centralized system . We asked PREPA in writing in November 2020 to allow us to participate in the preparation of this plan, but they did not respond to our request, “said Ingrid Vila, president and co-founder of Cambio.
According to the Queremos Sol group, in a technical conference of the Energy Bureau, PREPA officials confirmed that the corporation is seeking approval from FEMA to use $ 850 million for the construction of a combined cycle plant near San Juan and eleven others. natural gas units in five locations on the island.
“This conflicts with the 20-year PIR approved by the Bureau last year after a lengthy process of views and evaluation that had broad public participation,” said Laura Arroyo, from Earthjustice. The PIR establishes that, by 2025, Puerto Rico must have a portfolio of 40% of energy from renewable sources, in compliance with Law 17 of 2019. Arroyo added that, at the hearing itself, representatives of the Bureau said they were perplexed by the refusal of PREPA’s consultants and the public corporation itself to invest available federal funds in renewable energy.
“It is a clear mockery and contempt for world energy trends and for Puerto Ricans who recognize the reliability of renewable and distributed resources and have begun to seek their energy self-sufficiency. PREPA insists on wasting available federal money necessary to adopt solar energy resources for roofs and storage that would provide better service and economic benefits for Puerto Rico, ”said Ruth Santiago, a lawyer for the Environmental Dialogue Committee.
“Given the economic crisis in Puerto Rico, the available resources, the use of those funds in a decentralized system based on renewable sources would save lives, promote local economic development and change the trajectory of exporting billions of dollars a year so that fossil fuels maintain a stagnant system, ”added Professor Agustín Irizarry, former consumer representative on PREPA’s Governing Board and professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez.
The Queremos Sol proposal offers a clear and viable route for PREPA, as a public corporation, to invest available federal funds in residential and commercial rooftop solar energy systems and battery storage. This innovative solution is the alternative to a large-scale system that perpetuates dependence on fossil fuels, polluting health and the environment, which also subject the island to volatility in gas and oil prices.