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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

COR3 disburses $147.5 million through federal pilot program to equip PREPA projects

Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera

By John McPhaul

As anticipated, the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3) has disbursed some $147.5 million corresponding to the Working Capital Advance (WCA) pilot program for the purchase of materials and equipment necessary for the rehabilitation of Puerto Rico’s electrical system.

“This is 25% of the advance under the WCA for the project to purchase materials for which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) obligated more than $590 million,” COR3 Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said. “After processing the disbursement, now the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) will begin the process of acquiring the equipment. As we know, there is a high demand for materials and equipment worldwide and production is not at full capacity. With this strategy, PREPA is anticipating the need to advance the reconstruction projects.”

Among the equipment, which includes the project approved by FEMA in the middle of the year, are: 2,500 miles of transmission lines, over 300 substations, about 200,000 transformers and some 13,400 miles of feeders, among other system components.

PREPA Executive Director Josué Colón Ortiz stated that “the disbursement of the advance of 25% of the WCA for the purchase of materials and equipment allows us to process in advance the purchase orders of equipment with long delivery times that can exceed a year so that they are available at the time of carrying out the rehabilitation project.”

“This strategy streamlines the development of the projects that we continue to implement to rehabilitate the Authority’s generation and water assets, maintaining the continuity of operations and increasing the reliability and resilience of the electricity generation system every day,” he said.

At the moment, PREPA is developing seven reconstruction projects at power generation plants located in San Juan, Arecibo, Mayagüez, Salinas and Bayamón. Meanwhile, LUMA Energy has 11 repair or replacement projects for poles and lights in the municipalities of Ponce, Caguas, Luquillo, Lajas, Aguada, Maunabo, Arecibo and Mayagüez.

“The modernization of the critical infrastructure of Puerto Rico enables the continued expansion of the economic sectors and the diversification of industries, which represent a favorable economic impact for the socioeconomic development of the island,” Laboy Rivera noted.

Meanwhile, FEMA has approved 10 reconstruction projects for generation valued at over $115 million. Meanwhile, currently slated for construction are 28 permanent works related to distribution and transmission that amount to more than $105 million and that have the federal entity’s endorsement.

“A robust electrical grid positively impacts not only industries in general, but also health, education, and all residents of the island,” said José Baquero, FEMA’s federal coordinator for disaster recovery in Puerto Rico. “In addition, it prepares us to face other emergencies in the future with a more solid and effective network.”

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