Puerto Rico power utility saved $304 million in fuel costs over 6 years
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) saved $304 million in fuel between 2012 and October 2018 by using bunker C and natural gas in units 5 and 6 of the Costa Sur Thermoelectric Power Plant Complex in Guayanilla.
After units 5 and 6 were modified, the boilers can now burn a mixture of natural gas and fuel. Both units regulate frequencies between 200 megawatts (MW) and 300 MW or 300 MW and 380 MW, so they can start using natural gas. Therefore, from 2012 to October 2018, the cost per kilowatt-hour of production of the plant was reduced to 11.29 cents from 19 cents, which represents a 41.7 percent saving.
The remarks were made by Prepa representatives at a public hearing of the Special Committee on Energy Affairs, which is chaired by Sen. Larry Seilhamer Rodríguez. The committee was investigating the operations and performance of the Costa Sur power plant.
Prepa engineer Carlos Negrón explained that during the year there was a “sudden” drop in the price of bunker C fuel oil, to $45 a barrel, making it cheaper than natural gas.
“Natural gas has yielded significant numbers in savings from 19 cents per kilowatt-hour to 11.29 cents, which is the production cost of Costa Sur at this time, when we are reaching the 100 percent level by 2018,” commented Seilhamer, who added he does not want Puerto Rico to become “hostage” to natural gas suppliers.
Javier Soto, a Prepa engineer, explained that Natural Gas Fenosa buys natural gas in Trinidad Tobago but when they cannot get it there, they go to the market, including Africa. In a year, some 30 ships with natural gas arrive in Costa Sur.