Energy Bureau approves $1.8 billion for grid projects
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) has approved nearly $1.8 billion in electrical grid projects as part of the 10-year Infrastructure Plan for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), a statement issued Wednesday said.
The 140 projects approved by the PREB include works on 38-kilowatt transmission lines and distribution substations. So far, the PREB has given the green light to a total investment of $3 billion as part of the 10-year Infrastructure Plan, but the $1.8 billion allocation is the largest.
The projects, according to the PREB, represent important and necessary investments in PREPA’s transmission and distribution system, which since June 1 has been operated by LUMA Energy, that will address serious deficiencies in the current assets of Puerto Rico’s electrical system.
“These projects are an important step in the implementation of Puerto Rico’s energy policy,” PREB chairman Edison Avilés Deliz said. “As the entity in charge of directing and implementing this public policy, we are pleased to announce that with this approval, a much more stable and reliable electrical system should be expected.”
The PREB had asked PREPA and LUMA, in a series of orders, to detail the proposed projects, construction costs and the needs that would be addressed with each one.
“Thanks to this transparent process open to the public, and to the regulatory powers of the Bureau, we can assure the people of Puerto Rico that carrying out these projects will imply substantial improvements in the quality of the electrical service received by residences, businesses and industrial facilities,” Avilés Deliz said.
The lion’s share of the funding for the projects will come from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as part of post-Hurricane Maria reconstruction efforts. FEMA authorized over $10 billion to fix the island’s power grid after it was decimated by the September 2017 hurricane.
PREPA and LUMA must now obtain final approval for the use of funds from the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience and FEMA.
The island government is currently in the process of putting PREPA’s power plants under private management as part of a process to improve Puerto Rico’s energy grid.