Sunnova Energy Corp., the largest provider of distributed, residential solar power in Puerto Rico, shot down reports of an alleged interest in purchasing the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, as a whole or in part, as a high-ranking executive of the utility stated.
“Sunnova has never indicated any interest, at any point in time, in purchasing PREPA. Not only is it blatantly false, the idea is ridiculous. We are a solar service provider that is laser-focused on assisting our customers right now, to help connect them to reliable and resilient energy through solar and storage (batteries),” said Sunnova’s CEO William J. (John) Berger.
“Given the number of days that have passed since Irma and María, everyone should be focused on the task at hand, which is to help restore power and order for the people of Puerto Rico,” he said.
“For Sunnova, that means continuing to assess and repair our customers’ solar systems and to install batteries for those who have requested them. For PREPA, that means providing its customers with electricity. Plain and simple,” he added.
On Wednesday, the Center for Investigative Journalism revealed that in the wake of Hurricane María, at least four private companies had come forth expressing an interest in purchasing PREPA’s assets, as this media outlet reported.
Berger also took the opportunity to clarify how solar systems connect to the grid, saying: “Every utility in the U.S. requires that grid-tied solar systems shut down completely when the grid is offline. Utilities, like PREPA, require this for the safety of their line workers who have the potential to be put in a dangerous situation while they are working on lines that are energized from islanded energy systems.”
“As a result, our customers’ systems, and the ability to net-meter, can only operate if and when the grid is operational. As a result, we make it clear to our customers that their systems (along with net-metering) will only operate if PREPA is operational. So, when PREPA goes down, our customers’ solar systems are forced to go down as well, per PREPA regulations,” he said.
“It is critical to additionally note that battery technologies were not available for widespread deployment prior to the hurricanes. Even given that, Sunnova has been working diligently with its partners and suppliers to ramp-up and be able to offer batteries as an option to Puerto Ricans who are now interested in the additional resiliency and reliability that batteries provide,” he said, in response to customer complaints of a shortage of backup batteries, as well as the cost to lease and use them.
“At the same time, Sunnova has been assessing and repairing damaged solar systems as quickly as we can at no cost to customers to ensure that they are in working order for our customers when the grid is back up and running,” he concluded.