P.R. Energy Board orders PREPA to freeze new solar energy tax
The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau issued ordered the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to stop the implementation of a new tax that would generate an additional charge for customers using solar panels on the island, said the Solar Energy Storage Association.
The transition charge would have resulted in the majority of customers with solar panels receiving a lower credit in their invoices for the surplus energy produced and sold to the PREPA network, the organization said
“We have tenaciously opposed any additional charges that make it costlier for people to install solar power in their homes and businesses,” said PJ Wilson, president of the SESA in Puerto Rico.
“By stopping the implementation of this tariff that harms customers with solar generation, the Energy Bureau demonstrates a strong leadership in its role as regulator of Law 17,” he added.
The consumer protection measure occurred as a result of Law 17, signed by Gov. Ricardo Rosselló on April 11. The law requires the elimination of traditional fuel and energy sources including coal, oil and natural gas from Puerto Rico’s energy production operations by the year 2050.
The generation of fossil fuels will be replaced with renewable energy sources such as solar energy and wind, with a required increase of about 3% of renewables at present, to 40% by 2025.
Law 17 also allows that solar energy produced by citizens can be sold to PREPA based on a true net metering tariff structure. This implies that solar energy systems installed and operating on the island would receive a fair tariff based on the real market price for energy sold to PREPA for the next five years.
Currently, the purchase of solar energy source is valued below market prices, according to PREPA, the trade group said.
“The bipartisan agreement led in the Puerto Rico Senate by Sens. Eduardo Bhatia and Larry Seilhamer, as well as by Rep. Victor Parés in the House of Representatives have already begun to bear fruit for the benefit of the people,” said Alejandro Uriarte, CEO of New Energy and member of the SESA board.
“The degree of bipartisan cooperation demonstrated by the creation of this brave new law sets a precedent on the island and could be a model for other jurisdictions,” he said.
Law 17 also guarantees, through an inclusive clause or “Grandfather Clause” that any solar energy system installed in the next five years can receive a fair and real market rate in the production of energy for the next 20 years.
It is anticipated that PREPA will comply with the new order, which means that current and new customers with solar generation will continue to receive full credit on their electricity bills for all the electricity they produce, SASE executives said.
“The order is the first of the many steps necessary to expedite and encourage the island’s rapid transition, to move away from 97% dependence on imported fossil fuels and usher in an era of local clean energy,” Wilson said.
“SESA and industry representatives are prepared to achieve rapid growth, work closely with PREPA and with the Energy Bureau as we implement all stages of this new visionary law,” the executive said.