Puerto Rico governor withdraws support for Energy Answers project
SAN JUAN — Gov. Ricardo Rosselló announced Saturday that, after hurricanes Irma and Maria and the announcement of a new transformation plan for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa), the energy production and waste disposal project of Energy Answers in Arecibo is no longer part of the government’s public policy.
Rosselló explained that the island’s financial reality and new goals to reduce energy costs required reconsidering the project, which had been supported by past administrations.
On Jan. 8, the Financial Oversight & Management Board had announced Energy Answers as one of the four critical projects considered under Title V of the Promesa federal law and was under consideration by Revitalization Coordinator Noel Zamot.
The board had said the project would involve private investment of $860 million and would create more than 7,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs throughout the more than three years of construction. The estimated development period was 42 months.
“This project ceased to be compatible with the goals and the new reality of Puerto Rico, so it will no longer be part of the goals of Prepa’s transformation,” the governor said in a written statement.
Area conservation study ordered
Meanwhile, the governor signed House Bill 929, authored by House spokesperson Gabriel Rodríguez and Reps. José González and Joel Atiles.
The legislation orders the Natural and Environmental Resources Department to conduct an environmental study and establish adequate public policy for the conservation and preservation of the Tiburones Channel Reserve in Arecibo and Barceloneta, Puerto Rico’s largest wetland.
The bill was endorsed by the governor on Feb. 4 and approved by the Legislative Assembly with the vote of New Progressive and Popular Democratic party lawmakers.
“This administration’s public policy will be to maintain and promote the conservation of such an important natural reserve. This bill forces all government agencies to collaborate in this effort and enables a hydrological and hydraulic study of the area to ensure the best ecological conditions for the conservation and maintenance of Caño Tiburones. Our administration will ensure that any activity in the area is compatible with maintaining the natural reserve and not affecting the channel,” the governor added.