August 26, 2020 Read More →

Puerto Rico regulators back renewable energy transition, reject utility’s gas-heavy proposal

Greentech Media:

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority will be required to acquire thousands of megawatts of renewables and storage in the coming years, according to a Monday order from the island’s energy regulators that also rejected many natural-gas additions included in the utility’s integrated resource plan.

In its IRP filed last year, state-owned PREPA presented a preferred scenario that included 1,800 megawatts of solar PV and 920 megawatts of energy storage additions in the coming five years, plus eight minigrids that could be isolated to power certain sections of the island if the electricity system is disrupted.

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau this week presented a modified plan that included a mix with an even higher proportion of renewables: at least 3,500 megawatts of solar and more than 1,300 megawatts of storage by 2025.

Regulators rejected PREPA’s $5.9 billion plan for its minigrid transmission system, with plans to establish a new proceeding to optimize distribution and transmission spending and analyze potential cheaper resiliency options. The bureau also wants PREPA to hold off on many new gas additions, calling for “limited replacement” of older units through a competitive procurement process that considers a wide range of resources.

Taken together, the order significantly revamps the utility’s plan, prepared by Siemens, which many environmental and clean energy groups had criticized as too reliant on natural gas. Regulators framed their decision on the utility’s IRP as a “no-regrets” approach to Puerto Rico’s electricity transition.

In addition to relying on more renewables, the proposal from regulators will cost less, around an estimate of $13.8 billion compared to about $14.4 billion for PREPA’s preferred plan.

[Emma Foehringer Merchant]

More: In blow to natural gas, Puerto Rico regulators affirm solar-centric grid overhaul

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