Puerto Rico Closer to New Energy Policy; Revitalized Power Grid

More than a year after Hurricane Marie swept through Puerto Rico, destroying the electricity grid and leaving some without power for months, a new report released last week highlights specific recommendations for policymakers interested in helping to transform and future-proof the grid. 

Authors of the report include energy experts from theRocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and the Institute for Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy for Puerto Rico  (ICSE-PR).

The report — Public Collaborative for Puerto Rico’s Energy Transformation — has recommendations created by a diverse group of participants, reflecting areas of agreement and disagreement.

“The collaborative report encapsulates tangible advice for policymakers that we hope will be utilized to shape the new energy policy and the collaborative transformation of Puerto Rico’s energy future,” said Roy Torbert, Principal at Rocky Mountain Institute.

The report lists specific recommendations for policymakers in four key areas:

  • The promotion of an energy vision for Puerto Rico’s self-sufficiency and credibility; perhaps inspired by stakeholders from New York who worked on New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision.
  • An independent regulator with enforcement powers.
  • A modern regulatory framework and integrated resource plan (IRP).
  • The involvement of cooperatives and municipalities in the transition.

According to a press release about the report twenty-six of the forty-one participating stakeholders endorsed the report.  State Act 120 requires Puerto Rico to develop a new energy policy and regulatory framework by November.

 “Different than other efforts in the past, focused on particular solutions, plans or ideas, the collaborative effort as a whole and its report reflects the main concerns and recommendations in a comprehensive manner, considering a broad participation of stakeholders. This report is an indicator of a wide-ranging sector of Puerto Rico society [and] of the main concerns and path forward towards transformation of our electrical grid,” said Tomás J. Torres, Executive Director of the ICSE.

ICSE-PR and RMI will continue to contribute to reshaping Puerto Rico’s energy future. RMI is working on a project with Save the Children to bring solar microgrids to 12 primary schools and on an island-wide microgrid project with Resilient Power Puerto Rico (RPPR). ICSE-PR recently completed a project that provided emergency solar lighting to low-income communities and children. ICSE is currently focusing on multisectoral education projects and capacity building related to the transformation of the Puerto Rico grid.

Related: Puerto Rico School Ready for the Next Hurricane with Grid-Resilient Solar and Storage

Collaborative process participants acknowledged both areas of agreement and disagreement for policymakers to consider. Some believe that Puerto Rico can serve as an example to others of what a resilient, clean, people-oriented co-creative energy system planning looks like. The process is not only applicable to energy but also in driving change across other critical sectors of the economy.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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