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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

FEMA obligates $335 million for temporary power generators

Manuel A. Laboy Rivera, executive director of the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience

By The Star Staff

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has obligated over $335 million to acquire temporary power generators for the Palo Seco and San Juan power plants, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced late last week.

Pierluisi said FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had installed the power generators to stabilize energy generation after the passage of Hurricane Fiona, according to a statement issued by La Fortaleza.

“I thank the Biden-Harris administration and Deanne Criswell, FEMA Administrator, and their entire staff for this significant allocation of funds. This million-dollar obligation will clear the way for continuing with the purchase process of 17 generators distributed between the plants in Toa Baja and San Juan, which generate 350 megawatts,” the governor said. “At the same time, the electrical infrastructure’s permanent reconstruction and risk mitigation projects will strengthen the energy system to benefit the economic development and quality of life of our people.”

Intervening with the federal funding allocation that will allow the operation of the temporary generators to continue until December 2025 was the work team at the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3), the Public-Private Partnerships Authority, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority and the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, Pierluisi said.

“At COR3, we worked as a team to ensure that, in record time, but in compliance with applicable regulations, FEMA allocated the funds for this equipment acquisition,” COR3 Executive Director Manuel A. Laboy Rivera said. “Once the funds are allocated, the purchase contract continues the established process that requires the evaluation and approval of the Financial Oversight and Management Board. We are very optimistic that the entire transaction will be completed on or before March 15.”

Nancy Casper, a FEMA expert adviser, said that through the Direct Federal Assistance program, FEMA has provided temporary generation due to the impacts of Hurricane Fiona on an already fragile electrical grid.

“Although the immediate threat caused by Hurricane Fiona no longer exists, temporary energy support remains necessary for Puerto Rico to complete necessary repairs and replacements to existing infrastructure,” Casper said.

After the PREB determined that PREPA’s proposal was consistent with the utility’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the funds were obligated through Section 428 of the Stafford Act of the FEMA Public Assistance program. The purpose of IRP is to guarantee the development of the electrical energy system in Puerto Rico and improve the system’s reliability, efficiency and transparency.

PREPA Executive Director Josué Colón Ortiz stated that “at the Electric Power Authority, we continue to work in continuous and close collaboration with the COR3, FEMA, Genera PR, and the Public-Private Partnerships Authority to complete the acquisition and permit process of these temporary generators to ensure their uninterrupted operation for the benefit of the residents of Puerto Rico, while we continue with the reconstruction projects and improvements of our energy system.”

The equipment to be purchased operates on liquefied natural gas, making it cleaner and more environmentally friendly than current diesel generators. In addition, officials said, the more efficient devices require fewer repairs and maintenance, reducing the chances of blackouts.

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