Public comment period on Puerto Rico microgrid regulations opened
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Energy Commission has opened a 30-day comment period on proposed regulations for microgrid installations that were issued last week.
On Oct. 27, the panel began a review of the state of Puerto Rico’s electrical grid after being torn apart by Hurricane María. On Nov. 10, the commission sought comments from the public, particularly from individuals and entities with direct interest in the energy sector in order to draft the rules.
The regulations define microgrid as a group of interconnected loads and distributed generation, energy storage and systems. A microgrid allows one or more customers to maintain and operate an independent electrical system.
The panel received 53 comments on topics such as microgrid ownership structures, recovery costs associated with development and operation, microgrid location priorities and microgrid contract terms.
In general, the proposed rules establish microgrid categories based on their ownership structure, size and whether it sells energy to third parties. This classification system seeks to ensure a rational and organized application of the regulatory requirements.
The regulation applies to microgrids controlled and owned by individuals, customer cooperatives, nonprofit and for-profit companies, as well as cities, but not those owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa).
In the case of small cooperatives, the objective of the commission is to create a light regulatory framework, taking into account that a cooperative structure lessens the need for broader regulatory norms. On the other hand, in the case of for-profit systems in which the microgrid sells energy to third parties, the panel wants to establish minimum safeguards necessary to protect customers without creating obstacles to the development of, and investment in, said projects, according to the rules.
The proposed regulation provides for microgrids that generate at least 75% of their energy from renewable resources and use fossil-fuel resources in a limited way, for example, to provide reliability and back-up service, as well as microgrids based on combined heat and power, or CHP, technology.
Microgrids can interconnect with Prepa’s system, but when using the utility’s infrastructure, owners would incur a monthly fee that amounts to $25 per customer, capped at $250 a month for small cooperative microgrids. The cost for larger systems is calculated using a more complex equation.
The proposed rule also establishes consumer protections that apply to a greater or lesser degree based on the ownership structure and the size of the microgrid. These include a cap on the cost per kilowatt-hour that certain categories of microgrids can charge to their customers.