Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (Prepa)

In May, Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (Prepa) reached an $8.3 billion restructuring deal with a majority of its bondholders. (Carlos Rivera Giusti)

ReImagina Puerto Rico, a nonprofit initiative that promotes a coordinated reconstruction for Puerto Rico, expressed its concerns today regarding the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) proposed by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

According to ReImagina, the IRP responds to PREPA’s priorities and not Puerto Rico’s energy needs or the greatest public good. Malu Blázquez, ReImagina’s Executive Director, presented her remarks at a public hearing held this afternoon at the headquarters of the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB).

During her presentation, Blázquez highlighted the failures of the Electrical System Modernization (ESM) plan proposed in the IRP, one of more than 30 scenarios evaluated by PREPA and its consultants. PREPA has endorsed the ESM scenario without explaining why it’s the most appropriate, since it’s neither the cheapest option nor the one that generates the most renewable energy.

“The ESM has fixed pre-selected decisions that represent a substantial and unjustified investment in natural gas infrastructure and do not contemplate the risks associated with this type of energy system, instead of investing in increasing renewable energy as much as possible,” said Blázquez.

She also pointed out that the chosen scenario is susceptible to uncertainties and changes in demand, and it won’t necessarily match the goals of increasing renewable generation to 40 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050 laid out in the new energy public policy outlined in Law 17 of 2019 if the demand projections are not met.

In addition to the IRP, PREPA and the government of Puerto Rico are dealing with several simultaneous processes related to the transformation of the electrical power system in Puerto Rico, such as privatization efforts of the electrical system, the renegotiation of PREP’s debt, and the request for FEMA funds for the transmission and distribution system reconstruction. According to Blázquez, the IRP should be the central document that will govern the transformation of the energy system in Puerto Rico for the next twenty years. 

Therefore, ReImagina requests that no long-term concession agreement for generation that impacts Puerto Rico’s energy future be completed and signed until confirming alignment with the IRP once it has been finalized and approved by the PREB.

Blázquez also presented several recommendations developed by ReImagina with the goal of addressing Puerto Rico’s energy needs by transforming its electricity infrastructure into an affordable, reliable and innovative system that reduces adverse impacts on human health and the environment.

One of these recommendations, promoting decentralized generation through the use of micro-grids, was incorporated into the proposed IRP to minimize the impact that future hurricanes or storms may have on the network. Blázquez emphasized that the IRP should also consider other possible natural hazards, such as earthquakes, floods and droughts.

ReImagina was created in January 2018, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and the throes of Puerto Rico’s fiscal and economic crisis. A nonpartisan and independent organization, ReImagina evolved from the Resilient Puerto Rico Advisory Commission and is currently a program of the Center for a New Economy, which focuses on promoting a strong, equitable and prosperous Puerto Rico and helping rebuild the island on a more solid, fair and resilient foundation.

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