With the intention of promoting the development of alternative renewable energy sources, Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla signed three executive orders Tuesday that establish an orderly plan that will gradually replace Puerto Rico’s high dependence on fossil fuel energy sources and set the rules for the use of new energy alternatives for the island.
“Our energy agenda is directed mainly to steer the island toward achieving energy independence and lowering and stabilizing electricity costs,” García-Padilla said. “This involves promoting measures to reduce dependence on oil and move quickly to encourage aggressive development renewable and clean technology.”
The signing took place at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in Miramar, where a $30 million investment was also announced to install rooftop solar panels. Gestamp Solar is in charge of the project that will create 360 jobs and save the center about $20.7 million in its annual electricity bill.
The first of the trio of executive order establishes a procedure giving priority to renewable energy projects under the condition that — to be approved — they must conserve areas of high ecological value and give priority to agricultural areas.
In addition, these projects must have the infrastructure to connect to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority needed to avoid increasing the cost of electricity to consumers. The order voids the procedure adopted by the Gov. Luis Fortuño administration to circumvent normal procedures for obtaining permits.
The second order creates the Energy Autonomy Council, which will be responsible for enabling the development of a new energy policy that must be able to transcend administrations in office, reach decisions by consensus and integrate public participation, he said.
Representatives from government agencies will have a seat on the council, as well as three qualified citizens appointed by the governor. The newly created agency will also be responsible for preparing a reform for PREPA, with citizen input, which will be presented to the Legislature in the next ordinary session.
The third executive order creates the so-called Electricity Reliability Council, which will be responsible for offering short-term recommendations on how to address technical interconnection challenges that existing renewable energy agreements are dealing with.
“I made a promise to the people to achieve a 20 percent reduction in energy costs by 2015 and we are aiming to get there,” García-Padilla said. “And we will do it while promoting the development of renewable energy projects that will allow us to reduce our dependence on oil.”