The Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority might be required to amass 1000’s of megawatts of renewables and storage within the coming years, based on a Monday order from the island’s power regulators that additionally rejected many natural-gas additions included within the utility’s built-in useful resource plan.

In its IRP filed final 12 months, state-owned PREPA introduced a most well-liked state of affairs that included 1,800 megawatts of photo voltaic PV and 920 megawatts of power storage additions within the coming 5 years, plus eight minigrids that may very well be remoted to energy sure sections of the island if the electrical energy system is disrupted.

The Puerto Rico Vitality Bureau this week introduced a modified plan that included a combination with an even increased proportion of renewables: at the least three,500 megawatts of photo voltaic and greater than 1,300 megawatts of storage by 2025.

Regulators rejected PREPA’s $5.9 billion plan for its minigrid transmission system, with plans to determine a brand new continuing to optimize distribution and transmission spending and analyze potential cheaper resiliency choices. The bureau additionally needs PREPA to carry off on many new fuel additions, calling for “restricted substitute” of older models by a aggressive procurement course of that considers a variety of sources.

Taken collectively, the order considerably revamps the utility’s plan, ready by Siemens, which many environmental and clear power teams had criticized as too reliant on pure fuel. Regulators framed their resolution on the utility’s IRP as a “no-regrets” strategy to Puerto Rico’s electrical energy transition. 

“Crucial points have been rejected, particularly the reliance on new [liquefied natural gas] terminals in Puerto Rico and new natural-gas amenities,” stated Agustín Carbó-Lugo, a senior supervisor on the Environmental Protection Fund’s power program and a former chair of the Puerto Rico Vitality Bureau. “I assumed that was large.”

Along with counting on extra renewables, the proposal from regulators will value much less, round an estimate of $13.eight billion in comparison with about $14.four billion for PREPA’s most well-liked plan.

Regulators permitted billions of for transmission and distribution hardening and as much as $5 million for preliminary allowing and siting work on a proposed fuel plant, although the bureau didn’t give that plant the official go-ahead. PREPA has additionally obtained approval to transform the oil-fired San Juan plant to run on pure fuel, a course of that’s already underway and that the bureau affirmed in its order. 

PREPA didn’t reply to a request for touch upon the order.

Along with dealing with an electrical energy grid decimated by hurricanes and, extra not too long ago, earthquakes, Puerto Rico is working towards a legally mandated 100 % renewable portfolio customary. To this point, the island of three.2 million folks reached solely about 2 % of electrical energy from renewables. Planning for the long run is additional difficult by falling electrical energy demand on the island, a scenario doubtlessly exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.

These circumstances have made for a intently watched resource-planning course of.

The potential for VPPs and distributed technology

In its subsequent built-in useful resource plan, to cowl the interval past 2025, the bureau requested PREPA to “explicitly account” for the potential for digital energy crops — a rising development on the U.S. mainland — as extra residents set up photo voltaic and storage. At present, the bureau argues,PREPA treats distributed photo voltaic PV as an exogenous and glued set of sources whose deployment merely occurs, and for which PREPA should account.” 

The modified plan crafted by regulators as an alternative emphasizes “the central position that prospects can play by provision of power provide and [demand response]” — a change in ideology that echoes the concepts of some clean-energy advocates on the island who need to see Puerto Rico transfer towards an electrical energy grid targeted on distributed technology and “prosumers.”

The bureau is engaged on rules for demand response and power effectivity, which regulators would require PREPA to contemplate because it implements its plan.

Regulators have now tasked PREPA with wanting into the potential for offshore wind and refurbishing the island’s hydro sources.

PREPA, which can quickly hand over administration of the grid to a 3rd get together, is required by regulation to achieve 40 % renewables by 2025. It’s unclear if PREPA will get to work instantly, although “there’s loads of work to be carried out,” stated Carbó-Lugo. The utility has appealed previous bureau choices.

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