Energy Answers ‘surprised’ at Puerto Rico governor’s withdrawal of support
SAN JUAN – Following Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s withdrawn support of Energy Answers’ proposed Arecibo Resource Recovery Project as a potential critical project to be expedited under the Promesa federal law’s provisions, the company issued a statement Wednesday lamenting the decision.
“This decision is unfortunate, as it comes after the investment of more than $20 million and seven years of continuous development work, where it has been confirmed, by each reviewing agency, including the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] and the Environmental Quality Board, that the Project complies with the highest environmental standards. But, above all, that this decision has been made without transparency or the contribution of the Project team,” wrote Mark J. Green, project manager and vice president of Energy Answers Arecibo LLC.
He explains that technology that would be used in the project is based on the Southeastern Massachusetts Resource Recovery Facility (known as SEMASS), “which has been in successful operation for over 25 years, as well as the recently completed West Palm Beach Florida facility, further refuting claims that Waste to Energy facilities pose a threat to the environment or are no longer constructed in the U.S.”
The “rigorous” review program the project has undergone, Green said, has demonstrated it would provide “much needed recycling and solid waste management capacity to Northern Puerto Rico. New capacity that will help alleviate the ongoing garbage crisis caused by the dependence on a landfill system that does not comply with the most essential environmental regulations.”
He emphasizes that 20 of the island’s 27 landfills are scheduled to close and “surface and groundwater are contaminated daily, threatening Puerto Rico’s drinking water supply.”
The company believes hurricanes Irma and María exacerbated the issue, “increasing the need for the solid waste management, renewable energy and infrastructure investment benefits that the Project offers.”
Assuring that the company can address those challenges, it includes as an example of cooperation with Rosselló’s administration “to find an alternative source of cooling water to the initially proposed use of the Caño Tiburones daily discharge to the Atlantic Ocean.”
Green seems to suggest that the company is unaware of what motivated the governor’s “change of position and strongly believe that if we are given a sincere opportunity to address these issues, in an open and collaborative manner, that these can also be addressed successfully.”
According to the company, the Arecibo Resource Recovery Project “represents the installation of largest and lowest cost, utility scale renewable energy project currently under development in Puerto Rico.”
It further says that the projects proximity to the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority’s system can “help meet the urgent need for modern, resilient and compliant renewable energy capacity,” as well as provide more than “7,000 direct, indirect and induced local construction jobs and an infrastructure investment of more than $10 million a month, for forty-two (42) consecutive months.”