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Maricao’s urban center launches RFP for solar energy microgrid

The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña and the Consejo Interestatal de Energías Renovables (IREC), announced that the start of the process to develop a solar energy microgrid to supply electricity to the mountain town of Maricao’s urban center.

Both organizations published a request for proposals (RFP) for the photovoltaic project that should have a generating capacity of approximately 140 kilowatts (kWDC) and store 169 kilowatt hours (kWh).

As detailed in the published RFP, the Maricao microgrid will consist of the installation of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of five commercial buildings, two municipal buildings and three residential roofs.

The RFP requires the proponent to design, install and connect the solar energy system to the public electrical system. In this project, the contractor could choose to provide financing through a 20-year loan through a lease or a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA). The developer could also choose to design a microgrid project that connects all the structures or two or more interconnected microgrids that allow electrical distribution.

“With the launch of the request for proposals for the Maricao Microgrid, the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña continues at a steady pace developing resilient and cost-effective renewable energy projects for the communities of the Central Mountain Range,” said C.P. Smith-Quiles, executive director of the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña.

Through the RFP for the Maricao Microgrid, the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña begins Phase 2 of the Cooperative’s Community Photovoltaic Energy Resilience (ReEnFoCo) project, he said.

“In collaboration with IREC, Fundación Monte Azul, and leaders in Maricao, we confirmed what’s possible for residents of the center of the island,” Smith-Quiles said.

Maricao is the second town with the least population in Puerto Rico. This municipality is located in the mountainous area, on the western edge of the Central Cordillera between the towns of Yauco, Sabana Grande, San Germán, Mayagüez, Las Marías and Lares.

Due to its topography and the island’s weather conditions, landslides in this area are very frequent. This situation affects the electricity supply for long periods of time due to limited access caused by emergencies, project officials said.

In addition, the lack of power due to issues with Puerto Rico’s energy system “affects the quality of life of residents and deprives them of essential services,” said Carlos Alberto Velázquez-López, director of IREC in Puerto Rico.

This is the second microgrid that both entities work on together. The first was Microgrid 1 in the town of Castañer, inaugurated last May. The two microgrids are supported by the Puerto Rico Solar Business Accelerator, an initiative led by IREC and Pathstone Corp. with a grant from the US Economic Development Administration.

Velázquez-López believes this proposed microgrid for Maricao solidifies the work that both the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña and the entity he represents have been doing to support and empower rural area communities.

“Due to the tragedy that was Hurricane María and the chronic state of energy emergency that Puerto Rico has experienced for more than a decade, private and nonprofit sectors have taken the lead in developing resilience and energy justice initiatives with the active participation of the impacted communities,” he said.

“We have seen a lot of interest in the United States in these issues since they recognize that the integration of renewable distributed generation is of vital importance for the reliability and resilience of electrical networks both in Puerto Rico and in the United States,” Velázquez-López said.

Parties interested in submitting proposals may send an email to register for the RFP.

The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña is convening a virtual proposal conference Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. and a site visit Dec. 16, at 11 a.m. in Maricao. Proponents have until Jan. 10, 2023 to submit their proposals.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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