October 24, 2017 Read More →

IEEFA Update: Puerto Rico Is at an Urgent Energy-Policy Crossroads Now

Progress Requires Debt Elimination, Greater Reliance on Microgrids and Renewable Energy, Appointment of an Independent PREPA Administrator

OCT. 24, 2017 (IEEFA) — The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) today posted a webinar and data presentation calling for responsible electricity-grid modernization in Puerto Rico and emphasizing the importance of establishing appropriate policy now.

The presentation, (download the slide show here) by IEEFA energy consultants Cathy Kunkel and Anna Sommers, follows extensive research by both Kunkel and Sommers on PREPA over the past year and by testimony from both—before Hurricane Maria—to the Puerto Rico Energy Commission.

Key elements to establishing affordable, long-term re-electrification:

  • Dismissal of $9 million in legacy debt.
  • An aggressive transition to greater reliance on microgrids and renewable energy island-wide.
  • Appointment of an independent administrator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

Kunkel and Sommers cited PREPA’s history of reluctance to modernize and said institutional resistance to solar energy, especially, stands as a major barrier to post-Maria recovery.

“There has been institutional resistance to renewable energy at PREPA for a long time … but there’s a large base of support on the island outside of PREPA for moving toward a more resilient, more renewables-based energy system.”

Kunkel and Sommers noted that PREPA spends $1 billion annually for fuel costs, that the agency’s debt service accounts for a quarter of its budget, and that those two expenses combined pose huge hindrances to modernization.

‘There’s a large base of support on the island outside of PREPA for moving toward a more resilient, more renewables-based energy system.’

“Affordability must be prioritized,” Kunkel said. “That requires cancellation of legacy debt and reduction and eventual elimination of fossil-fuel costs.”

The island remains without power more than a month after Hurricane Maria, noted IEEFA Executive Director Sandy Buchanan.

“The whole world now knows about the fundamental flaws in the island’s electricity sector,” Buchanan said. “The question now is whether in the wake of the disaster Puerto Rico can build a modern and more resilient electricity system taking advantage of abundant local solar resources, microgrids and energy efficiency.”

Download the slide show here: “Puerto Rico’s Electricity Before and After Hurricane Maria”

See the YouTube video below:

 

Media contact: Karl Cates, kcates@ieefa.org, 917.439.8225

About IEEFA: The Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) conducts research and analyses on financial and economic issues related to energy and the environment.

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