Queremos Sol coalition urges gov’t to speed up transition to solar
The Queremos Sol coalition called on the government to hire former Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) employees to speed up the energy recovery efforts that LUMA has been unable to accomplish after Hurricane Fiona and to urgently promote the deployment of rooftop solar energy to improve the island’s resilience.
“It’s unacceptable that LUMA has taken so long to reestablish the energy service, even in the metropolitan area that did not suffer much damage from Hurricane Fiona,” said Ruth Santiago, spokeswoman for Queremos Sol.
During an afternoon briefing, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi said 82% of the island has had its energy service restored.
The coalition also emphasized that rooftop solar has again proven its value in terms of resiliency. There are more than 370 MW of distributed photovoltaic systems interconnected to the electrical system, most of which have batteries to continue supplying energy during an emergency. More than 110 MW of distributed solar energy has been installed in the last year.
“It’s indisputable that solar energy on roofs with storage is the solution to provide resilience and save lives during these emergencies that we continue to face and that continue to devastate the centralized system,” said Ingrid Vila, president of CAMBIO and spokesperson for Queremos Sol. “The public is moving quickly in this direction, but the reality is that most of our population cannot afford a photovoltaic system.”
“We need the federal funds that are available, and could be awarded in response to Fiona, to be directed toward an urgent transformation to renewable energy on roofs,” she said.
Last year the coalition published the results of detailed modeling of the electricity system’s generation, transmission and distribution systems showing that it is feasible to achieve a level of 75% distributed renewable energy within 15 years, based on rooftop solar.
Using $9.6 billion of federal funds to fuel this transformation, including the modest distribution system improvements needed to integrate renewable energy, would result in a rate of approximately 15 cents per kWh. This transformation would dramatically improve the island’s resilience, while reducing fossil fuel use and stabilizing the tariff at an affordable level, the nonprofits have stated.