Thursday, November 14, 2019

Environmental Defense Fund to Build Microgrids in Puerto Rico

By on March 21, 2019

A solar microgrid system under construction. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

To modernize electric grid, improve system’s resilience

SAN JUAN – The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is unveiling a vision to collaborate with communities, technical experts, businesses and investors to build microgrids in Puerto Rico that would be used to transmit energy generated from low-carbon fuels and solar to bring “reliable, clean and affordable electricity to rural areas of the island.”

As described at “BlackStart 2019: Future of Energy Summit,” in San Juan, the plan will help modernize Puerto Rico’s electric grid and improve the system’s resilience.

The proposed plan comes after the Senate passed a conference committee report on a new energy regulatory framework that calls for Puerto Rico to use 100 percent renewables by 2050. It also comes after the Energy Bureau gave the P.R. Electric Power Authority (Prepa) 30 days to rewrite its integrated resource plan, the blueprint for the island’s energy needs, after calling it deficient.

“Rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electricity system can help protect the island from future storms, improve the lives of its residents and strengthen its economy—but it must be done with respect,” said Fred Krupp, president of the EDF. “We will listen to the people of Puerto Rico and bring communities and partners together in a transformational effort to give the island the clean-energy future it deserves. By building low-carbon microgrids in rural places that were hardest hit by Hurricane Maria, we can keep the lights on when the next storms strike.”

Low-carbon microgrids can play an important role in Puerto Rico’s energy future. These systems can fuel up on solar power, store it in batteries and deliver affordable, clean and reliable energy where people need it most. They can connect to the larger grid and also disconnect during blackouts to keep electricity flowing to hospitals, traffic lights, schools and other critical services.

Krupp expressed a sense of urgency to find a lasting solution to Puerto Rico’s energy crisis. He outlined the organization’s all-inclusive approach to making microgrids sustainable and scalable by combining technology and energy reform with public grants, philanthropic funds and impact-focused private capital.

BlackStart 2019, which was organized by the Center for a New Economy, is the first in a series of multi-annual events designed to provide the platform necessary for thinking, imagining and planning to fulfill a vision for Puerto Rico’s energy future.

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