The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has reached agreements with six renewable energy companies who will now produce power that is expected to generate $63 million in savings for the agency in 20 years, Executive Director Juan Alicea said Tuesday.
The inclusion of the new providers is also expected to eventually have a positive impact on monthly electricity bills for residential and business consumers who for many years have spoken out against the high rates charged for the essential service.
The firms now under contract are: Horizon in Salinas, YFN Yabucoa Solar in Yabucoa, Oriana in Aguadilla, Solaner in San Germán, Grupotec in Hatillo and Atenas Solar in Manatí. All have their necessary permits in place and will begin producing renewable energy immediately.
A seventh provider is expected to come into the loop “soon,” he said.
“We’ll buy the electricity that these companies produce at reasonable prices, as promised,” said Alicea, refraining from disclosing how much the agency will pay per kilowatt hour, as the agreements with each solar energy provider is different.
All of the companies had to renegotiate contracts that were approved by the previous administration under Gov. Luis Fortuño.
“We giving continuity to renewable energy projects, but responsibly, ensuring the public interest and fairness to all parties,” he said, during a news conference held at the Botanical Gardens, with representation from the aforementioned companies as well as from the government.
These agreements meet the goal of achieving more than $60 million in savings for PREPA and push the agency closer to integrating into the power grid the maximum renewable energy the system can support at this point, which is 600 megawatts, he said.
Furthermore, these renewable energy projects will allow PREPA to increase its generation of renewable energy to 365 megawatts, representing almost 61 percent of the 600 megawatts allocated to this segment, the government official added.
“When we took over the reins of the public corporation, we found 64 renewable energy contracts awarded by the previous administration lacking the appropriate parameters that were consistent with our electrical infrastructure’s capacity,” he said. “Those contracts also placed burdensome conditions on the purchasing power that threatened to increase the already excessively high cost of electricity in Puerto Rico.”
Aside from the six companies whose contracts were announced Tuesday, PREPA is also working with four other projects that produce renewable energy: AES Ilumina, Pattern Santa Isabel, Punta Lima Wind Farm, and Windmar Renewable Energy. The San Fermín Solar Farm is close to also expected to begin producing energy soon, the agency said.Julián Herencia, executive director of the trade group known as APER.
APER speaks out
Meanwhile, the Association of Renewable Energy Producers, known as APER in Spanish, said four of the six providers added to PREPA’s renewable energy production roster are members of the trade group, which was not involved in the renegotiation process.
“Only they and PREPA know the aspects and details of these agreements and the rationale used to reach the final rates, which were not offered publicly,” said APER Executive Director Julián Herencia.
“The rates offered by bonafide renewable energy companies that have renegotiated their agreements and those that are still renegotiating with PREPA are genuinely competitive and much lower than what we now pay for energy produced from fossil sources,” he said.
Meanwhile, he explained that the inclusion of renewable energy production into PREPA’s grid will never increase monthly energy bills, but will instead help stabilize and eventually lower them.
As far as the long-term savings that PREPA stands to gain by working with the six new providers, he said it is “unrelated to the 13-cent per kilowatt hour fee that is used as the basic rate.”
Finally, the APER representative said studies have shown that PREPA’s transmission grid is capable of receiving 800 megawatts of renewable energy power, higher than the 600 megawatts Alicea mentioned Tuesday.
“There are projects still pending that have all their permits and requirements that are ready to start generating electricity. These projects have invested, trusted and bet on Puerto Rico as did the six projects that were announced today,” Herencia said.
To that effect, Alicea confirmed that renegotiations are underway with other renewable energy companies that signed agreements with PREPA last year.