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P.R. gov’t unveils $20.3B plan to modernize, strengthen island’s power grid

Gov. Wanda Vázquez announced details of “Puerto Rico’s Electrical Grid Modernization Plan,” a $20.3 billion effort to strengthen, modernize and transform Puerto Rico’s power grid using industry best practices and accepted codes and standards.

The GridMod Plan was developed in coordination with federal and local government agencies, as well as private sector partners. The plan will be financed with both federal funds and private investment, Vázquez said.

“This GridMod Plan will provide the safe, modern, and resilient power grid that the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico deserve, a grid that will power both Puerto Rico’s current and future economy,” she said.

“This plan was developed with the input of industry experts and we will continue to ask the federal government to provide all eligible recovery funds to execute it,” she said.

The governor unveiled the information along with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority executive director José Ortiz; PREPA’s Governing Board Chairman Ralph Kreil; Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resiliency executive director Ottmar Chávez; and Public-Private Partnerships Authority executive director Fermín Fontánes.

The GridMod Plan announced includes a capital investment strategy outlining short-term, mid-term and longer-term investments, mapped to the energy courses of action in the Economic and Disaster Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico, Ortiz said.

The plan targets the repair, rebuild and hardening measures designed to strengthen the electric power grid to withstand future storms.

The development of this plan was addressed around making the new power grid:
(a) customer-centric, enabling customers to become more engaged with the utility, as well as, handing them the control to choose how to address their energy needs;
(b) affordable, to improve energy service costs to all residents, industries and businesses;
(c) reliable, to improve power service and quality to meet the demand of electricity users; and,
(d) resilient, to withstand future extreme weather and man-made events, and sustainable, to develop a transparent regulatory framework and aggressively move to cleaner, more sustainable energy sources.

The immediate emergency response work performed following Hurricanes Irma and María was focused on baseline repairs to re-establish functionality to an outdated and devastated grid.

These emergency repairs were intended to be temporary, pending the development of a long-term modernization plan, and our power grid remains fragile and vulnerable to disruption to this day.

The plan represents the next step in securing the necessary federal funding, as warranted and eligible through existing federal programs, government officials said.

The plan also guides the transformation of the power grid to one more decentralized by increasing the use of distributed renewables, storage, thermal generation resources, islandwide grids and microgrids to improve local area reliability to prevent widespread grid failure during catastrophic events, they added.

The plan aligns itself with PREPA most recent Integrated Resource Plan, Ortiz said.

“The total estimated cost of the GridMod Plan is approximately $20.3 billion. The estimated federal investment for the implementation of this plan is $13 billion,” Chávez said.

The U.S. Congress has already established the authority that will enable the execution of the GridMod Plan through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and the Disaster Recovery Reform Act of 2018, he added.

“This legislation includes language allowing Puerto Rico to ‘build back better’ and bring outdated infrastructure and systems on the island up to current industry standards. The funding necessary to make this investment possible has already been allocated by Congress in the Supplemental Funding bills for Disaster Recovery of 2017 and 2018,” said Chávez.

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

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