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Prepa Board: Aguirre Gasport to Begin Operations February 2018

By on April 27, 2016

SAN JUAN–The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) board held its regular meeting late Tuesday, providing updates on the electric utility’s restructuring, as well as the status of its operations, infrastructure projects and the completion of the proposed Aguirre Offshore Gasport.

PrepaInterNews

Prepa central offices in Santurce

Sonia Miranda, planning director at Prepa, revealed the floating offshore liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification facility off the southern coast of Puerto Rico, which would help diversify energy sources for Puerto Rico and reduce utility bills, is slated to begin operations February 2018 as officials are still working to obtain numerous permits.   

Though Miranda did not touch on the subject, Caribbean Business learned that the date represents a delay in the project’s completion, as Prepa had presumably told bondholders recently that it did not expect the Aguirre Offshore Gasport to start operating until July 1, 2017.

The facility, which will help Prepa comply with federal MATS (Mercury and Air Toxics Standards) regulations, is expected to help consumers save $3 billion in energy costs over a period of 20 years, as estimated by the utility. However, Miranda said the completion of the permits “has been a headache” so far.  During a presentation, she listed more than a dozen permits that were still needed, including permits from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Quality Board and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“We have been working since 2012 on getting the permits and we are not finished,” she said.

The project includes construction of a floating liquefied natural gas terminal featuring a floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), infrastructure to moor the vessel, and a subsea pipeline to facilitate the gas supply onshore. Miranda did not exactly say how the project would be financed.

Later during the meeting, Martin Pérez García, an engineer at Prepa, discussed the network of high voltage power lines that are being built around the island. He revealed that the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan calls for the expansion of these power lines to bring power from stations in the southern part of the island to the north, where 70% of the utility’s customers live,  Using videos depicting Prepa helicopters carrying towers as well as workers fixing power lines, Pérez García said expanding the network of power lines is more efficient than building additional power plants to bring electricity to people’s homes.

On the other hand, officials reported savings in oil purchases that were estimated at $144 million yearly. The savings, coupled with a reduction in oil prices, has resulted in $1.8 billion in savings for consumers since 2014.

Prepa officials also reported advances in curbing non-payment in utility bills. The utility said corporations and agencies are current with their bills and that past balances totaling $250 million have not increased.

The authority has also significantly reduced energy theft, officials said, with the utility planning to send 20 more investigators on the field to gather information on consumers who are stealing energy service. In 2014, the utility recuperated $13 million in energy theft, while in 2015 it recuperated $18 million, and so far this year is on target to recuperate $22 million. The target for 2017 is to recuperate another $22 million in energy theft.

 

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