The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted the go-ahead to Excelerate Energy to site, construct, and operate the proposed Aguirre Offshore GasPort Project in cooperation with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
The order confirmed the final Environmental Impact Statement that resulted in a finding of no significant environmental impact, the federal regulator said.
As part of the order, the project will comply with all the environmental conditions outlined by FERC.
“We are pleased to receive the order from FERC after nearly four years of extensive environmental review,” said Rob Bryngelson, Excelerate’s chief executive officer.
“During this time, Excelerate has not diminished its efforts to deliver the beneficial Aguirre Offshore project, nor has the company wavered in its support for PREPA’s and the Government of Puerto Rico,” he said. “Excelerate firmly believes that the Project will provide a valuable service to PREPA and bring tangible and enduring benefits to the citizens of Puerto Rico.”
The proposed project will be a floating liquefied natural gas terminal with the same capabilities as a land-based terminal. The terminal will consist of a floating storage and regasification unit, minimal infrastructure to moor the vessel, and a subsea pipeline to deliver the gas onshore.
The facility will provide fuel to PREPA’s Central Aguirre Power Complex. Fuel cost reduction and environmental improvements, such as improved air quality and reduced barge traffic in the environmentally sensitive Jobos Bay, are the primary drivers for bringing the project to Puerto Rico, executives said.
“The order represents an important milestone in the development of the project,” stated PREPA’s interim executive director, Carlos Castro. “This project is critical for PREPA to reduce the cost of energy in Puerto Rico and to reduce the emission of air pollutants.”
The project has undergone an exhaustive analysis through the environmental review process that began in December of 2011. Within this timeframe, Excelerate has provided information regarding the design, construction and operation of the Project to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, cooperating agencies, and the general public.
Also, both Excelerate and PREPA have held numerous meetings with the private and public sectors, as well as local communities and interested parties, to ensure complete transparency throughout the entire permitting process.
On Feb. 20, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the final EIS, which assessed the environmental impacts of the Project and determined that the project was suitable for construction and operation.
In the coming months, Excelerate will continue to work with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and cooperating agencies in preparation for the commencement of construction.
Construction is estimated to begin the first quarter of 2016, with an in-service date of the second quarter of 2017.
The approval is “an important step in the construction of the Aguirre port, which is key in PREPA’s restructuring plans and to comply with federal standards and maintain stable electricity rates for citizens,” said Puerto Rico Chief of Staff Víctor Suárez, during a news conference at La Fortaleza on Monday.