Fiscal board holds listening session on Puerto Rico’s energy sector
SAN JUAN – The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico held a listening session Thursday on “The Future of Puerto Rico’s Energy Sector” at the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in New York. The session can be seen here.
The board said the session is part of the fiscal plan revision underway “to reflect Puerto Rico’s reality in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.” It received testimony from experts and stakeholders representing different sectors on three panels titled “Recovery and Restoration,” “Transformation and Long-Term Vision,” and “New Technologies for Puerto Rico’s Power Sector in the aftermath of Hurricane María,” and was moderated by the board’s, revitalization coordinator Noel Zamot.
Chairman José B. Carrión had said in a release before the session that the board “looks forward to reviewing the Government’s plans, and intends to incorporate any transformation of PREPA [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] into the revised Fiscal Plan.”
“One thing is certain after hurricane María, Puerto Rico’s energy sector must be transformed in order to serve its people well, stimulate private sector investment and enhance the island’s competitiveness,” Zamot said in a release after the session. “Public dialogue is crucial in this respect and it is consonant with the transparency and order the process ahead should entail.”
Zamot also announced there are seven new projects for consideration under the federal Promesa law’s Title V Critical Projects Process (CPP) and are ready for the initial 30 day public comment period, which will be followed by the statutorily required public comment period upon release of the CPP report.
The projects, joining four already under consideration, include: M Solar Generating LLC; Vega Serena Solar Plant; Cabo Rojo – Solar Photovoltaic Energy System; Carraízo Dam – Hydro Electric generation rehabilitation for Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa) use; Blue Beetle III PV Solar Plant at Barceloneta Substation; Repair and Mobilization of Former U.S. Navy Isla Grande Dry Dock for servicing commercial and government ships in San Juan; and Viewpoint at Roosevelt.
“The importance of the energy sector in Puerto Rico is directly tied to the island’s long term viability,” Natalie A. Jaresko, executive director for the oversight board, added in the release. “We all share the goals of reducing the cost of electricity in Puerto Rico by implementing a diverse fuel mix and improving operational efficiency, while improving the resiliency and reliability of electricity service via the announced long-term concession of transmission and distribution. The Board is committed to promoting the changes and best practices needed to achieve those goals.”
The session’s agenda kicked off with a panel on recovery and restoration, during which the board heard from representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), New York Power Authority (NYPA), American Public Power Association and the telecom, retailers and pharmaceutical industries.
The board then gathered input from representatives of Prepa’s governing board and its Transformation Advisory Council, Puerto Rico’s Energy Commission, Rocky Mountain Institute, Puerto Rico Institute for Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The session concluded with a new-technologies panel featuring stakeholders from the Puerto Rico State Office of Energy Public Policy, the Puerto Rico Senate and the renewable energy sector, followed by an open public comment period.