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Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority seeks disaster preparedness projects

By on November 7, 2017

SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority has “shuffled its priorities” following the devastation left by Hurricane María in September and is now focusing on projects that can withstand natural disasters.

The PPPA earlier this year unveiled 22 projects, most of which were not critical but “transformative” in that they are intended to make the government more efficient in terms of housing, transportation, and providing energy and water services.   

Then, María took down more than 90% of the electric power grid. The major hurricane also damages thousands of properties as well as scores of roads and bridges. As a result, projects that provide more resiliency in those areas are now sought.

Puerto Rico gov’t announces 6 public-private partnership projects

While PPPA Director Omar Marrero declined to get into the politics of climate change, he said there was ample evidence that the number of hurricanes over the Atlantic Ocean was not only going to increase but also be stronger.  

“Not only do we have to rebuild Puerto Rico, but we also have to make a stronger and better Puerto Rico,” he said at a recent Rebuild Puerto Rico event. In October, the governor announced it had six public-private partnerships, three of which were unsolicited and energy related.

Omar Marrero, head of the Ports Authority, the Convention Center District and the Public-Private Partnerships Authority (Juan J. Rodríguez/CB)

Marrero said the authority is not only interested in renewable energy projects that include microgrids, distributed generation and energy storage, but it is also interested in a partnership that will allow the government to bury power lines.

He also said the authority is looking for smart city projects, which are resource-efficient. For instance, San Diego, which leads the nation in switching to renewables, is also upgrading to efficient LED streetlights and equipping power utility poles with cameras, sensors and a variety of devices to help traffic management, parking and crime detection.

Marrero said he is looking for a project involving street lights that can also be equipped with smart city interconnections including broadband networks.

He also said Puerto Rico’s water utility continues to rely heavily on centrally generated electricity and dependence on the grid. He said the agency wants projects associated to renewable energy sources paired with microgrids and energy storage systems that can power large portions of the water service network.

“On a system-wide basis, this project can provide significant savings and potentially have a commercial viability adequate for a public-private-partnership project,” he said.


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