For the second time in as many weeks, the Agriculture Department participated in the inauguration of a renewable energy project, this time at ornamental plant business Cali Nurseries in Barranquitas.
The electricity bill-reducing initiative unveiled Monday consists of 147 solar panels and five inverters, representing an investment of $206,000; 80 percent of the cost was equally split between the Agriculture Department’s Integral Agricultural Development Fund and the Energy Affairs Administration, with each putting up $82,400. Cali Nurseries owner Héctor Santiago invested the remaining $41,200.
“This project transforms a variable cost into a fixed cost for the agribusinesses. Once the investment is repaid, the cost will be reduced to virtually zero,” Agriculture Secretary Javier Rivera Aquino.
Cali Nurseries is one of the island’s foremost ornamental plant businesses, producing thousands of poinsettias, anthuriums and orchid plants annually. The investment announced Monday will repay itself in 42 months, government officials said.
Over the past two years, the Energy Affairs Administration and Agriculture have invested about $2 million in renewable energy projects throughout 15 farms islandwide. Late last month, the agency cut the ribbon on a $160,000 renewable energy system installed at San Lorenzo dairy farm La Maratón.
Through their renewable energy projects funding program, the EAA and Agriculture have invested in about 15 agricultural projects all over Puerto Rico.
“Here in Barranquitas we will produce 47,000 kilowatt hours per year, which represents an estimated savings of $11,750 per year, based on a cost of the current .25¢ per kilowatt-hour rate the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority charges,” Rivera-Aquino said.
“Having the power to control their energy costs makes them more competitive, allowing them to generate more attractive prices in the local market and beyond our shores,” he noted.
Santiago founded Cali Nurseries in 1997, spanning about 35 acres of land. The business generates 16 direct and four indirect jobs, and reported $1.25 million in sales last year.
“A future business goal is to increase the production of certain specialty products, look into supplying products to the cruise market, and exporting to the Caribbean islands,” said Santiago.