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Green Energy Fund spurs 111 solar energy projects islandwide

Antonio Orbay, president of Advantage SelfStorage demonstrates the recently installed solar panel system to Pérez-Riera and Bernal.

Over the past year, 111 green energy projects have sprouted up islandwide representing a joint investment between the government and the private sector of some $48 million.

So far, dozens of homes, industries, nonprofits and businesses islandwide have retrofitted their facilities with solar energy systems to harness our sun’s energy and save money, government officials said Wednesday, while providing an update of the financing approved through the government’s Green Energy Fund.

“This fund’s impact on our economy goes beyond the $48 million, if we take into consideration the jobs that are preserved and new ones created,” said Economic Development and Commerce Secretary José Pérez-Riera, following a tour of Advantage SelfStorage, a Guaynabo-based business that recently installed a $400,000 solar energy system.

“The company we visited today, with its solar panel project, is another example of how the energy reform has changed the way industries address their energy needs,” he said.

Advantage SelfStorage is a mini-warehouse storage facility that now has the distinction of having the San Juan metropolitan area’s largest solar energy system in operation.

“The Green Energy Fund represents opportunities for our growth in the green energy sector, and has been an effective strategy for economic development that has enabled us to create jobs in the green energy sector and preserve jobs in other productive sectors of our economy,” said Energy Affairs Administrator Luis Bernal.

Two-tiered program
The Green Energy Fund is divided into two tiers. The first tier comprises those projects up to 100 kilowatts, which are available to businesses and residences. The application process is on-line, on a first-come-first-served basis until funds run out. Participants receive rebates of up to 60 percent on the purchase and installation of an energy conservation system. It is available bi-annually, and will open for applications again Aug. 1, 2012.

So far, 91 solar energy projects have been approved under Tier 1, split between 62 residences and 29 businesses islandwide.

“The total cost of these 91 projects is about $13.5 million of which some $7.8 million is  government investment,” Pérez-Riera said.

Among the businesses included in that roster of projects is Wal-Mart, the Santa Rosa Mall in Bayamón, the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, TF Professional Building, Las Piedras Medical Group, Campo Alegre Dairy, Hacienda El Jibarito, Alberic Ford dealer and the Bahía Salinas hotel.

The second tier is reserved for projects generating between 100 kilowatts to 1 megawatt, reserved for businesses and industries. The application process is competitive, and rebates offered through this segment are of up to 50 percent on the purchase and installation investment. The next participation cycle will begin July 1.

Twenty solar energy projects have been approved under this tier, with a related total cost of $32.8 million. Participating businesses include the Isla Verde Mall, Master Paints, the Ponce Airport, AAA Culebra, Bananera Pagán, V. Suárez, WalMart and Costco.

These projects have been approved during the first year since Gov. Luis Fortuño signed Law 83 of 2012 that created the Green Energy Fund.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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