Thursday, June 22, 2017

Energy production spikes Puerto Rico greenhouse gas emissions

By on April 11, 2017

SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico continues to rely almost entirely on fossil fuel for energy production, with only 2.27% of its energy produced by renewable sources, and resulting in two of its powerplants registering 7 million metric tons of emissions linked to the greenhouse gas effect in 2015.

According to the 2015 Annual Report of the State of Puerto Rico’s Energy Situation, presented by the University of Puerto Rico’s (UPR) National Institute for Energy and Sustainability (Inesi by its Spanish acronym) for the Public Energy Policy Office, most emissions were generated by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (Prepa) Aguirre Power Station, for a total 3.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2e).

Specifically the report details that Aguirre reported mostly sulfuric acid, which in humans has the effect of causing inflammation in the lungs, alterations in respiratory rate and other respiratory failures.

The second plant that generated the most greenhouse gases was the AES private coal plant in Guayama, which produced a total of 3.4 million metric tons of CO2e.

INESI presented Monday a report on Puerto Rico's energy consumption. NESI presentó hoy en la terraza de Administración Central de la UPR el estado de situación energético de Puerto Rico para el 2015. From left: Dr. Lionel Orama, Dr. Glady Escalona de Motta, Francisco Rullán Caparrós, and Dr. Loraima Jaramillo. (Courtesy of Ingrid Torres)

Inesi presented a report on Puerto Rico’s energy consumption. From left, Dr. Lionel Orama, Dr. Glady Escalona de Motta, Francisco Rullán Caparrós, and Dr. Loraima Jaramillo. (Courtesy/Ingrid Torres)

“These two plants generated a total 7,027,101 metric tons of CO2e. According to information from the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency], Prepa’s Aguirre Power Complex hasn’t met emission standards since 2013 and its emissions have increased in the past three years,” the executive summary of Inesi’s report reads.

The study points out that the AES coal plant in Guayama shows demographic indicators that suggest a “highly contaminated” environment and that there is “high vulnerability to environmental injustices among surrounding communities” when compared to regional, state and national averages. The same goes for the communities near the Aguirre plant and the Costa Sur plant.

“52.1% of all energy generated in Puerto Rico was produced using oil. Production through natural gas, between Prepa and EcoEléctrica, reached 30.4% of the total. Through the use of coal, AES produced 15.6% of the total. That is, the production of electric energy through the use of fossil sources reached 98%,” said Marla Pérez Lugo, member of the Inesi Steering Committee.

Throughout 2015, 31.2% of Puerto Rico’s electricity was produced by seven private generators: EcoEléctrica, AES Puerto Rico, AES Ilumina, Pattern Santa Isabel, Punta Lima Wind Farm, San Fermín Solar Farm, and WindMar Renewable Energy.

During 2015, 31.2% of the electricity produced in Puerto Rico came from seven private generators: EcoEléctrica, AES Puerto Rico, AES Ilumina, Pattern Santa Isabel, Punta Lima Wind Farm, San Fermín Solar Farm and WindMar Renewable Energy.

Fewer Customers

Regarding electricity consumption, the Inesi report found that in 2015, Prepa lost 0.15% of its customers when compared with 2014.

Specifically, the report details that in 2015 the number of customers was 1,454,971 and in 2014 there were 1,457,101. Of the four main sectors of consumption, the agricultural sector was the only one that registered a customer increase, of 0.75%.

The number of residential, commercial and industrial sector customers also decreased.

On consumption, the report states that October 2015 was the month of highest consumption in Puerto Rico, with a total of 1,595 megawatts.

“The consumption of more electric energy occurs among commercial customers, followed by residential customers and third is the industrial sector. This consumption is divided into two additional sectors, which are public and agricultural lighting, but both remain well below 0.3% of the total compared with other sectors,” the study found.

Looking at the consumption of the municipalities, the report highlights that the metropolitan area continues to lead and is followed by Aguadilla, Mayagüez, San Germán, Ponce, Caguas, Manatí, Arecibo, Juncos and Humacao. The study points out that the municipalities in the island’s rural areas tend to consume less electricity.

Multiple Rates

Prepa has some 22 different rates, which vary depending on the electric service provided and the type of customer.

According to the report, the highest prices for residential, commercial and industrial rates were recorded between February and April 2015, while the lowest basic charge for the residential rate was recorded in May, for the commercial sector in August, for the industrial in November, for public lighting in October and for the agricultural rate in April.

“We found that Puerto Rico is among the countries with highest reported well-being and has an average consumption of just over 5,000 kilowatt-hours per person annually. However, countries such as Panama and Costa Rica reflect less than half of the consumption in Puerto Rico, averaging 2,000 kilowatt-hours per person annually–and report greater well-being among its population,” the study highlights.

The study was carried out by Drs. Cecilio Ortiz García, Marla Pérez Lugo and Lionel Orama Exclusa, who are members of Inesi’s Steering Committee; Dr. Marcel Castro, a UPR professor and INESI resource; Dr. Loraima Jaramillo, an Inesi research associate; and Jonathan Castillo, a student at the UPR Mayagüez Campus and research assistant.

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