• The Star Staff

Energy Bureau approves PREPA’s Integrated Resource Plan with amendments

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) approved in part the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and an amended five-year action plan, according to a press release issued this week.

The IRP is a blueprint of the island’s energy needs, protecting customers and ensuring workforce safety for the next 20 years.

“We just received the PREB’s resolution on the IRP. At this time, we are evaluating it to determine our next steps,” PREPA Executive Director Efran Paredes said.

As part of the portion of the IRP that was approved, the PREB gave the green light to a $2 billion investment in the utility’s transmission and distribution system, and $5.9 billion for the development of a mini-grid program, the release said.

The PREB also approved the development through 2025 of a minimum solar generation capacity of 3,500 megawatts (MW) and a maximum of 3,900 MW. By that same year, PREPA should have developed a storage system with a minimum capacity of 1,360 MW and a maximum of 1,480 MW, the item indicated.

The regulator authorized the power purchase operating agreement that was renegotiated with EcoEléctrica and the natural gas supply agreement with Naturgy through 2032. The approved IRP includes putting the AES Puerto Rico generation plant out of operation by the end of 2027 because it is a coal-power plant, the press release said. AES plans to switch to renewable energy sources.

The PREB also approved the conversion of two units of the San Juan power plant from oil to natural gas. However, the possible extension of a fuel purchase contract with New Fortress Energy, which expires in 2025, will be evaluated during the discussion of the next IRP, according to the document.

In June, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asked New Fortress Energy to explain why they didn’t seek permission to build and operate a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to fuel a $1.5 billion deal converting a pair of coal-fired San Juan power stations.

Meanwhile, the regulator rejected the preliminary activities for the future development of liquified natural gas terminals in Yabucoa and Mayagüez, and the development of 18 new gas terminals to replace some existing units, the press release said.

PREPA had been hoping to use natural gas as an intermediate alternative to reduce costs for energy consumers.