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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Governor: Acquisition of temporary generation units for 2 power plants is ‘great news’

By The Star Staff

Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced late last week that, through Section 428 of the Stafford Act, FEMA’s Public Assistance program will provide funding for the acquisition of temporary generation units in the Palo Seco and San Juan power plants, along with their associated infrastructure.

“This agreement with FEMA to keep the temporary generation units in operation is great news for our people because it allows us to strengthen the stability of our energy system, while we can continue with the repair, maintenance and reconstruction of our electrical infrastructure. FEMA will provide the funds to acquire these units without impacting the funds already allocated to Puerto Rico for the reconstruction of the electrical grid and repairs to the generating units,” the governor said in a written statement.

According to Nancy Casper, FEMA’s senior advisor for the Puerto Rico Electrical System Stabilization Task Force, “the Government of Puerto Rico has expressed its desire to acquire the temporary generation system provided by FEMA. The current level of grid instability simply did not exist when the Hurricane Maria recovery projects were developed. No one could have anticipated the cascading impacts the storm caused to the entire system.”

“FEMA recognizes the use of these immediate measures as a step toward more sustainable energy systems,” she said. “This will also help Puerto Rico work to meet its PR100 goals.”

With the support of the federal government, Puerto Rico is now in a unique position to acquire the generation units and use them until Dec. 31, 2025, until scheduled repairs and replacements are completed. FEMA has determined that temporary generation units are eligible for funding through the Hurricane Maria recovery operation. That will allow Puerto Rico to continue working on existing infrastructure with a one-time funding expense.

The generators, which use liquefied natural gas, are more environmentally friendly than many of today’s diesel-powered generators, producing less pollution and greenhouse gasses. They will require fewer repairs and maintenance, reducing the chances of blackouts. The move will also allow Puerto Rico to take advantage of newer, cleaner technologies in the future.

The officials noted that while a fair and equitable acquisition of the generators is being discussed with the current owners, FEMA and the island government are working to ensure that the scheduled transition takes place before March 15 so that there is no interruption of service. Maintaining the temporary generation capacity is critical to reducing the chance of unforeseen power outages while permanent system repairs are being made, they said.

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