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Puerto Rico Energy Bureau approves $647M battery energy storage project

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau has conditionally approved a series of projects that will add 430 megawatts of storage capacity to support the island’s electrical grid and that can provide up to four consecutive hours of backup power, the regulator said. 

With an estimated investment of nearly $647.6 million, the projects range from transmission and distribution to “improvements in the intercommunication infrastructure and are a vital part of the effort to modernize Puerto Rico’s electrical grid,” the release reads. 

The resolution and order issued by the bureau is for the implementation of battery energy storage systems (BESS) to deliver “essential services such as frequency regulation and energy reserves essential to maintain the continuity and reliability of the power supply.” The technology will allow access to previously stored electricity from renewable sources, such as solar or wind, or from the grid during off-peak times. BESS are used to improve energy efficiency, provide backup power and help stabilize the grid. 

These systems, the bureau said, will enable the integration of renewable generation and “provide a rapid response capacity against unforeseen fluctuations in demand or generation, thus strengthening the stability of the grid against events that may put the [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authorit (PREPA)] interconnection system at risk.”

The systems, the regulator explained, are also designed to provide distributed generation services and help mitigate demand peaks without overloading the grid, “maximizing available electrical injection capacity without compromising system integrity.”

The system’s approval is a key step for PREPA to follow its integrated resource, or energy, plan and strengthen the island’s grid.

“The incorporation of these electrical storage systems is a critical component to modernize our infrastructure and to achieve the goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050,” said Edison Avilés-Deliz, the bureau’s president. “These will not only improve the quality and reliability of electric service, but also represent a step forward in our ability to efficiently manage energy demand and reduce polluting emissions.”

The bureau said it has requested Genera PR – the service provider of the island’s 12 energy facilities – to submit a detailed scope of work for each site, provide approval documentation and contracted costs within 10 days of their receipt, and seek approval for any changes. 

The projects must be presented to the bureau 30 days before submitting them to Federal Emergency Management Agency and the island’s Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, according to the resolution and order, which says noncompliance could lead to fines or sanctions.

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