FEMA: $60M+ obligated for 12 energy grid-repair projects
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said it has allocated more than $60.2 million to continue addressing the repairs needed to rebuild and stabilize Puerto Rico’s power grid after 2017 hurricanes Irma and María.
The latest round of obligated funds are specifically destined to 12 subprojects for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and include generation, transmission and distribution units in the municipalities of Bayamón, Caguas, Mayagüez, Ponce, San Juan and Toa Baja.
The works are slated for hazard mitigation proposals “to avoid similar damage in the future, such as the replacement of concrete poles with galvanized steel poles,” Deputy Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator Andrés García said in a statement.
FEMA said the Palo Seco Power Plant in Toa Baja received more than $53.7 million for transmission works.
“PREPA purchased and installed three PWPS Mobile Gas Turbines, or mega generators. These turbines will be used as a temporary power source to bypass the needs of certain transmission lines and/or generation power plants,” according to the agency’s release.
Another obligation of more than $2.6 million “for generation purposes, was used to complete the replacement of a demineralized water tank and stainless-steel pipes. It included other works such as a soil study and environmental compliance tests,” FEMA added.
“An additional benefit of having the mega-generators in service is that these modern units are much more efficient than the existing peaking units replaced by them, resulting in a lower cost for customers in Puerto Rico,” Prepa Executive Director Josué A. Colón said in the release. “With the support of FEMA and [the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3)], PREPA has been able to make the necessary repairs to several generating units during the past year, which has helped stabilize the generation system in Puerto Rico.”
The Puerto Rico Public Private Partnerships Authority recently approved an agreement with a concessionaire to run the debt-ridden power utility’s generation assets, but the agreement still needs the island governor and the federally established Financial Oversight and Management Board’s approval.
Prepa reportedly approved a 10-year contract last week with Genera PR, a consortium that includes New Fortress Energy, which has already built a facility to supply liquefied natural gas to the San Juan Combined Cycle Power Plant. The goal behind the public-private alliance is to eventually decommission the utility’s aging units, which are said to be much older than the oldest utilized stateside, as the Puerto Rico government implements its plan to only use renewable energy sources by 2050, with LNG playing a critical role in the transition.
Regarding the funding for works on distribution, an obligation of more than $3.8 million was distributed among 10 facilities located in the six different towns.
“Included in this allocation are the repairs to distribution pole and conductor of San Juan Group 8, that includes distribution feeders Venezuela, Hato Rey, Tres Monjitas, Baldrich, Las Lomas 4 and Las Lomas 5. With an obligation of more than $483,000, existing poles and hardware were removed to install new ones with concrete foundation bases in the same location. This project captures funding of nearly $106,000 for a hazard mitigation proposal to increase the wind tolerance of all materials and replace concrete poles by galvanized steel poles.”
Coordinator García stressed that the funding benefits “nearly 900,000 people living in these municipalities, who will be able to rely on an improved electrical grid, not only for their homes, but also for schools, hospitals and other facilities in the area.”
The funds are part of nearly $1.7 billion committed by FEMA to date for 87 power utility subprojects under the federal agency’s Accelerated Awards Strategy to repair damages that the energy grid sustained during the historic storms.
FEMA quoted COR3 Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy as thanking the agency for the multimillion-dollar obligation and saying that, to date, “some 10 permanent works have been completed and another 113 projects valued at $415.2 million are in the construction or design stage.”
Since 2017, FEMA has obligated more than $29 billion in Public Assistance funds for some 10,400 projects that support the island’s rebuilding efforts.
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