Yabucoa solar energy farm gets the go-ahead

Written by  //  March 2, 2011  //  Environment  //  No comments

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PREPA will purchase solar power from Yabucoa. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Less than two months after announcing plans to be eyeing Puerto Rico for the development of a $150 million solar energy project, this week Canadian firm Western Wind Energy Corp. confirmed it has signed a 30 megawatt photovoltaic purchase power agreement with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.

The agreement is good for 20 years, and will begin as soon as the solar panel farm is developed on a 400-acre parcel the company has leased from the Puerto Rico Lands Authority in the southeastern town of Yabucoa.

“We are honored by the opportunity to build, own and operate one of the first large scale solar photovoltaic generating facilities in Puerto Rico,” said Jeff Ciachurski, CEO of Western Wind, thanking central and municipal government agencies involved in the expedited permits process.

“Our special thanks to the governor, his staff and members of Congress who have set the vision of a dynamic way forward providing meaningful job creation and energy independence,” he said.

The Yabacoa Solar Project will be financed by tax equity and debt raised by Western Wind Energy Corp.

Wednesday’s announcement comes just a few days after PREPA Executive Director Miguel Cordero warned that electricity prices will rise and be reflected in next month’s bill as a result of the conflict in the Middle East that has sent the price of the barrel of oil soaring.

He noted that such hits to consumer pockets could be minimized — or avoided — as soon as Puerto Rico began steering away from its oil dependency to produce energy. The government agency is also lobbying for the construction of the Vía Verde natural pipeline project, which has met with much objection from environmental and grassroots organizations that claim it will damage natural ecosystems along the construction route.

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