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Op-Ed: PREPA’s new Integrated Resources Plan ‘crucifies’ P.R. with natural gas

The new draft of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) proposes to crucify Puerto Rico with natural Gas off-shore and land-based ports, negatively impacting the island’s marine ecology and multiple species.

The plan proposes
the construction of marine terminals and gas-pots in the bay of San Juan, Yabucoa,
Mayagüez and possibly in Aguirre, Salinas.

In the coming weeks,
the plan will be presented to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau.

El Puente Enlace Latino
de Acción Climática (ELAC) has been fighting against the integration of more natural
gas for years. After Hurricanes Irma and María, it believed work would be done to
move Puerto Rico toward the integration of more renewable energy, but what we see
in the plan is that it contradicts what was expected and is not aligned with some
of the goals of the Senate Bill 1121 and less with the entity’s proposal of “Queremos
Sol.”

Puerto Rico has an
opportunity to do well, to be the example for the rest of the world and it are letting
others benefit from the island’s people. Although the government’s goal is to reach
50 percent renewable energy by 2040, the preferred scenario in the plan would only
reach 29 percent renewable energy by 2038.

With that scenario,
how do we think we will achieve the 100 percent goal by 2050?

The IRP’s draft prepared
by Siemens Industries for PREPA is a document full of contradictions. On the one
hand, it proposes the ambitious integration of renewable energy systems and on the
other hand, it promotes four methane gas (natural) liquefied projects in San Juan,
Yabucoa, Aguirre, Mayagüez and San Juan, a gas pipeline from Guayanilla to Aguirre
and then to San Juan and Palo Seco.

The current IRP does
not present a significant analysis that favors the decentralization of the energy
system, an example of this can be solar panels on roof or micro grids. “Queremos
Sol’s” proposal presents a distributed and decentralized generation plan. It
has been developed by a coalition of groups and organizations with expertise in
energy, environment, community development and finance.

The proposal presents
the alternative of transforming the electrical system through renewable, clean and
distributed generation. The proposal, among other strategies, promotes the efficiency,
conservation and use of roofs for the installation of photovoltaic systems.

Puerto Rico has the
great opportunity to dramatically change the energy model as we have known to reduce
our vulnerability to climate change, eliminate the use of polluting fuels and provide
greater participation to the public in the distribution of wealth represented by
this sector, according to ELAC’s Spokesperson Ingrid Vila-Biaggi.

We must unmask the
myth of the “transition” with natural gas. Puerto Rico already generates more than
one-third of the electric power with the burning of gas. It is proven that gas involves
the replacement of one group of toxic emissions by others. Revaporizing and burning
gas causes an increase in emissions of volatile organic compounds and CO2 equivalent.
The increase of these emissions with gas flaring occurs because the gas goes through
a revaporization or regasification process to change it from its liquid to the gaseous
state.

Increased investment
in gas pipelines, terminals and ports to integrate more methane gas represents an
obstacle to the desired transition to renewable energy.

We do not need these
gas pipelines, terminals and ports that mean more investment to integrate more methane
gas and create a greater dependence on gas imports, creating increase in the energy
cost for the Island.

With hurricanes Irma and María, we could see the effects on our ports. We do not produce methane gas on the island, this means that we will have to import it and that our energy infrastructure will become even more vulnerable to these events.

Author David Ortiz is Director of El Puente Enlace Latino de Acción Climática (ELAC)and may be reached at dortiz@elpuente.us.

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

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