Gov’t, FEMA lay out strategy to stabilize Puerto Rico’s power grid
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Federal Coordinator Nancy Casper announced the steps to follow to increase the generation capacity and improve the transmission and distribution system of Puerto Rico’s power grid.
The announcement comes after Gov. Pedro Pierluisi requested FEMA’s intervention to stabilize the island’s energy system.
The proposals include installing temporary generation through barges and high-capacity portable generators that will be assigned to the island for up to a year. FEMA already has identified specific units and is taking steps to contract and mobilize them to Puerto Rico, which can take between one and six months, she said.
Additionally, the federal agency “is carrying out essential work in an expeditious manner in the existing generating plants that allow the reincorporation of units that are not working at capacity or that are out of service,” she said.
The agency will execute “key and fast projects” on the power grid, such as the replacement of high voltage switches and the repair of transformers, among others.
The Puerto Rico Power System Stabilization Task Force, which President Biden established in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, includes FEMA, the US Department of Energy, the US Corps of Engineers, and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The special team “has developed strategies that will allow Puerto Rico to continue to repair and rebuild following Hurricane Fiona’s impact. The work will enable the people of Puerto Rico to keep their lights on, grow the economy, and be in a more resilient position during the next hurricane season,” said Casper.
“We’re focused on this collaboration between FEMA, our federal partners and the government of Puerto Rico to achieve our end goal of a stable power system,” she said.
Federal resources will be used to expedite work such as deploying equipment, providing engineering services, expediting permits, and purchasing processes. All the work that FEMA and its teams will be carrying out will be coordinated with the local component of the energy system so that the works are carried out in a systematic way, Pierluisi said.
“This assistance would be in addition to the funds that we already have assigned to the power grid and their priority is to provide stability in the shortest time possible and thus be able to repair the system prior to the next hurricane season,” said Pierluisi, flanked by Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency (COR3) Executive Director Manuel Laboy and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Energy Affairs, Francisco Berríos-Portela.
“The aid also considers and respects the Integrated Resource Plan and the renewable energy goals of our energy public policy. The temporary increase in generation will also allow work and improvements to be carried out in the generating units that we are using today and that we cannot turn off to make repairs, since we don’t have enough generating capacity,” Pierluisi said.
Through the collaboration with FEMA and all other energy components, “we will be able to focus all efforts on advancing the transformation and modernization of the electrical system without further weakening it. This way, our island will have a stable service while the long-term work is done,” the governor said.
As part of its work, members of the Puerto Rico Power System Stabilization Task Force have already completed 35 technical evaluations in Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) main generation facilities, as well as in transmission centers and key substations managed by LUMA Energy.