Puerto Rico gov says island will end coal-based power generation next year
Rosselló: We are committed to transitioning from fossil fuels as early as possible
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Monday that the island’s power grid will stop burning coal to generate electricity by 2020.
The recently approved Energy Public Policy Act calls for Puerto Rico to use only renewable sources of energy by 2050.
“We are in talks with AES Energy Systems, the firm that owns Puerto Rico’s coal plant in the municipality of Guayama, in order to identify a cleaner form of energy by next year,” the governor said in a statement issued by his office, La Fortaleza.
The new law allows for the replacement of coal-burning plants with another fuel as a transition toward 2028, when coal use will be banned. Also, it allows for certain contracts, such as AES Puerto Rico’s, which generates 17% of the island’s electricity with coal, to be amended if the plant is modified to use renewable sources.
“Even though our government’s public policy, as established in our Energy Policy Integrated Plan, indicates that the deadline to move away from CO2 is, at the earliest, 2028, we are committed to transitioning from fossil fuels as early as possible,” Rosselló said Monday.
“By 2025, we expect to produce 40% of our electric power from renewable sources,” he added.
Among the law’s other provisions are for small solar energy systems to be connected to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) as soon as these are certified by an engineer. It also provides for net-metering, or the process by which the utility purchases energy produced by a consumer, to be activated quickly by establishing automatic interconnection for systems under 25 kilowatts. Larger systems must be approved within 90 days.
The bill protects net-metering for five years and allows new clients to be grandfathered in for the next 20 years. It also establishes that an agreement with creditors to restructure the public utility’s $9 billion debt be superseded by public policy. Another important provision is no taxes on solar and wind systems.
The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau has called for Prepa to revise its integrated resource plan, which includes several natural gas projects.
Prepa Executive Director José Ortiz said last month that the utility will use natural gas as a transition to renewables, arguing that the technology, although advancing, is currently too expensive. Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner in the U.S. Congress, Jenniffer González, said she sees no reason why Puerto Rico cannot become a Caribbean hub for natural gas.
–Senior reporter Eva Lloréns contributed to this article.