Several groups oppose Puerto Rico LNG offshore terminal
SAN JUAN – Worried over possible environmental contamination, María Isabel de Guzmán, who along with 13 cousins owns a cay on the coast of Salinas, was one of several people who requested Thursday that the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (PREC) put a stop the proposed Aguirre Offshore GasPort (AOGP).
The maritime terminal that would carry liquefied natural gas to the Aguirre power complex could cause environmental damage to the Barca Keys.
“We have read about how they will drill,” De Guzmán said after emphasizing the need for Puerto Rico to increase its use of renewable sources instead of continuing its reliance on fossil fuels. “There, they could harm hundreds of species,” she added.
Like her, several people, including the Archdiocese of San Juan and the Sierra Club, voiced their concern on the project’s high cost. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) has called the AOGP as a temporary project to reduce the energy bill, which is at about 20 cents per kilowatt-hour.
According to Prepa, the AOGP would cost $350 million, a figure that would increase to $385 million if its financing proposal comes through. The PREC halted the project to analyze if there are more cost-effective alternatives.
Engineer Osvaldo Romero testified that he participated in the construction of the Aguirre powerplant some 40 years ago and said the project isn’t cost-effective because the plant “is already in its agony stage.”
“I question the construction of this project when this plant has a few years of useful life left. This project can’t be justified based on the age of that plant,” he argued.
Also, Lissette Avilés, a representative of the Archbishop of San Juan in ecological matters, urged the PREC not to make way for the project when the world is shifting toward the use of renewable energy.
Meanwhile, Adriana González, a grassroots organizer of Sierra Club’s Environmental Justice program, said that studies by the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus, propose the use of residential rooftops to place photovoltaic, or solar, panels to generate energy, and have estimated that if 10 percent of the rooftops had solar panels, these could generate 20 percent of the island’s energy. She argued that the LNG terminal would impact impact potential investment in renewable energy projects and other alternatives to fossil fuels.
Moreover, Miguel Rodríguez, who works in a renewable energy sales firm, argued that there is no information regarding how much energy the project would generate or its cost per kilowatt-hour. He said the project would leave Puerto Rico at the mercy of natural gas price fluctuations.
“Renewable energy is cheaper than fossil [fuel]…. Why not explore that alternative?” he questioned, emphasizing that renewable energy’s cost per kilowatt-hour fluctuates between 8 and 10 cents.