Puerto Rico Energy Bureau approval of plant conversions goes against IRP, dissenter says
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau’s (PREB) approval of a contract for the conversion of the San Juan power complex’s units 5 and 6 to use natural gas was a de facto amendment to the electric utility’s integrated resource plan (IRP), which has been in place since 2016, one of the regulator’s commissioners assures.
The Energy Bureau approved the fuel purchase contract Friday, arguing that the conversion will save the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority $1.1 billion in fuel costs over the course of five years and because of the condition of the island’s electrical system after hurricanes Irma and Maria, which destroyed the grid.
“It is reasonable that until a new IRP is approved, the Energy Bureau does not remain inert in front of certain beneficial initiatives that do not have a significant impact on the approved IRP,” the bureau said in justifying its decision.
Ángel Rivera de la Cruz, one of the bureau’s associate commissioners, dissented from the decision because the conversion was not part of the analysis to approve the IRP in 2016. Rivera de la Cruz said Unit 6 has to be economically retired in 2024 and Unit 5 in 2026. Therefore, “the contract did not comply with integrated resource planning” and the bureau implicitly changed the IRP.
“I reiterate my position that the proposed conversion of San Juan units 5 and 6 is an implicit modification of the approved IRP and that the request for proposals process for the proposed conversion of San Juan units 5 and 6 does not comply with the public policy on energy regarding integrated resource planning,” he said.
The ruling was criticized Monday by members of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association, who said they should have been given access to the contract and a say on changes to the IRP.
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