Former Puerto Rico energy regulator joins Environmental Defense Fund

Agustín Carbó (www.twitter.com/acarbolugo )

To lead microgrid project aimed at restoring electric grid

SAN JUAN — The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) announced Thursday that it was establishing its presence in Puerto Rico with Agustín Carbó, formerly from the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, who joined the organization as senior manager.

Based in San Juan, Carbó will oversee the development of what the New York-based nonprofit described as a “community-focused microgrids project, which aims to increase access to clean, reliable and affordable electricity, particularly in rural areas of the island.”

In the announcing release, Daniel Whittle, the senior director of Caribbean Initiatives for EDF, which provides solutions for environmental problems through private-sector partnerships, called Carbó “one of Puerto Rico’s foremost experts on energy and environmental law and policy,” adding that he “intimately understands how the island’s electricity system works and the local concerns associated with it. The potential for this microgrid project to help transform the island’s energy system has never been higher.”

In his role, managing EDF’s Energy program, Carbó is expected to “interact and collaborate with communities, public officials and non-governmental organizations to advance energy reform, finance and technology initiatives to steer Puerto Rico toward a cleaner, more sustainable and more resilient energy future,” according to EDF.

“Strengthening Puerto Rico’s electric system is key to the island’s economic development and to creating a climate-resilient society,” Carbó says in the release. “I am honored to join Environmental Defense Fund and work to empower Puerto Rico’s communities to implement a long term solution to the island’s energy crisis.”

Before joining EDF, Carbó was the first chairman of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, which is now the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau. He also served as executive director of the Puerto Rico Solid Waste Authority, and held positions at Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

EDF President Fred Krupp unveiled the organization’s vision to create a “lasting solution to Puerto Rico’s energy crisis” at BlackStart, an energy summit that gathered more than 20 speakers to discuss the challenges the island’s energy system faces.

Anderson Cooper and Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, discuss energy challenges. (grupocne.org)

EDF explained that its approach entails “close collaboration with stakeholders on the island,” is “all-inclusive and combines technology and energy reform with public grants, philanthropic funds and impact-focused private capital to demonstrate the feasibility of low-carbon microgrids.”

Calling them “mini-energy service stations,” EDF said these solar-powered microgrids, although linked to the island’s grid, are designed to work independently during emergencies “to keep the lights on in remote parts of the island.”




Environmental Defense Fund to Build Microgrids in Puerto Rico

A solar microgrid system under construction. (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

To modernize electric grid, improve system’s resilience

SAN JUAN – The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is unveiling a vision to collaborate with communities, technical experts, businesses and investors to build microgrids in Puerto Rico that would be used to transmit energy generated from low-carbon fuels and solar to bring “reliable, clean and affordable electricity to rural areas of the island.”

As described at “BlackStart 2019: Future of Energy Summit,” in San Juan, the plan will help modernize Puerto Rico’s electric grid and improve the system’s resilience.

The proposed plan comes after the Senate passed a conference committee report on a new energy regulatory framework that calls for Puerto Rico to use 100 percent renewables by 2050. It also comes after the Energy Bureau gave the P.R. Electric Power Authority (Prepa) 30 days to rewrite its integrated resource plan, the blueprint for the island’s energy needs, after calling it deficient.

“Rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electricity system can help protect the island from future storms, improve the lives of its residents and strengthen its economy—but it must be done with respect,” said Fred Krupp, president of the EDF. “We will listen to the people of Puerto Rico and bring communities and partners together in a transformational effort to give the island the clean-energy future it deserves. By building low-carbon microgrids in rural places that were hardest hit by Hurricane Maria, we can keep the lights on when the next storms strike.”

Low-carbon microgrids can play an important role in Puerto Rico’s energy future. These systems can fuel up on solar power, store it in batteries and deliver affordable, clean and reliable energy where people need it most. They can connect to the larger grid and also disconnect during blackouts to keep electricity flowing to hospitals, traffic lights, schools and other critical services.

Krupp expressed a sense of urgency to find a lasting solution to Puerto Rico’s energy crisis. He outlined the organization’s all-inclusive approach to making microgrids sustainable and scalable by combining technology and energy reform with public grants, philanthropic funds and impact-focused private capital.

BlackStart 2019, which was organized by the Center for a New Economy, is the first in a series of multi-annual events designed to provide the platform necessary for thinking, imagining and planning to fulfill a vision for Puerto Rico’s energy future.