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Prepa railed on for ‘discouraging’ renewable energy production

By on September 22, 2016

prepa billSAN JUAN – In the face of the grave economic harm the massive, ongoing power outage Puerto Rico has been under since Wednesday afternoon, Tomás J. Torres Placa, president of Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association’s (PRMA) Energy Committee, denounced Thursday that the financial restructuring of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) is unique and exclusively aimed toward recovering investors’ funds and not toward improving the government asset’s infrastructure.

This, he explained, discourages the local industry from producing energy through more sustainable resources, such as solar and wind.

“That restructuring, which only focuses on the financial aspect, has discouraged the industry because for every renewable energy produced by your own means, you will have to pay 3.1 cents per kilowatt, and that discourages people from developing their own energy,” Torres Placa denounced.

“Prepa’s new rates increase fixed charges by 50%, a hike paid by businesses that have to pay even if they haven’t consumed [power]. Those charges were raised; however, they lowered the fuel purchase cost to discourage renewable energy development. That is Prepa’s proposal, and it is unacceptable, it has led us to where we are today,” he added.

The PRMA official insisted that Prepa’s stance regarding renewable energy is highly contradictory.

“On the one hand, they assure there is interest in boosting renewable energy, but on the other they impose transition charges, 3-cent minimum for all renewable energy people produce in their properties ‘behind the meter.’ You can have a little magic box to produce energy, and if it’s connected to Prepa you have to pay the transition charges for that energy you produce,” Torres Placa said, while assuring the public corporation’s rate model penalizes private efforts.

SEE: Renewable industry calls for just and fair power rate hike for net metering

“Prepa’s Integrated Resource Plan mentions that restructuring the generation system traditionally requires $3 billion. That plan was submitted by Prepa in July 2015, and it is still under evaluation by the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, and it would take 30 years to be implemented. This plan ties us to centralized generation that depends on complex energy distribution systems, and whose lack of maintenance and update is the cause of a type of situation like the outage yesterday and today,” he noted.

Torres Placa said businesses with generators would be able to distribute excess energy and benefit other sectors if Prepa’s infrastructure were updated with smart grid supply network that could react to power-usage changes.

“Prepa opposes these improvements in its systems because they go against earnings. They aren’t interested in optimum development nor in providing better service,” he stressed.

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