Energy Commission to reconsider order to stop construction of Aguirre Offshore GasPort
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Energy Commission (PREC) accepted the request of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) to reconsider its own directive, which amends the Integrated Resource Plan and stops construction of the Aguirre Offshore GasPort, and on Friday Director Javier Quintana was hopeful the project could be built as well as various units converted to natural gas.
“We are pleased with PREC’s determination to accept reevaluating the proposed amendment, as the Aguirre Offshore GasPort is vital to achieve environmental compliance. We have warned that the amendment proposed by the commission would delay compliance with MATS [Mercury and Air Toxics Standards] for at least five or six years and would expose Prepa to penalties of up to $93,750 a day per violation for said noncompliance period,” Quintana said.
On Oct. 13, Prepa presented a reconsideration before PREC, believing its order to modify the Integrated Resource Plan would delay the compliance with MATS and expose Prepa to noncompliance penalties.
The Energy Commission, Quintana said, also accepted a request that Prepa reevaluate conversions to natural gas at the Aguirre energy complex. Through these conversions to natural gas, Prepa seeks diversification and to not continue its dependence on oil.
The Energy Commission now has 90 days to evaluate the proposal for reconsideration submitted by Prepa of modifying the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan. The commission’s resolution doesn’t mean it has given the project the go-ahead as it must issue a final determination on the merits of the proposal. The commission gave all intervenors until Nov. 2 to express their opinion on the reconsideration.
Prepa’s executive director said the permitting process for the Aguirre Offshore GasPort “is well underway,” since the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) recently announced that the evaluation of the biological opinion should be completed in October and published by December.
Quintana explained that the National Marine Fisheries Service’s decision will allow the U.S. Corps of Engineers to complete its assessment of the joint permit, which in turn will put the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in a position to give its approval for the construction of the gasport.