NPP to propose 70% renewable energy generation by 2032
By John McPhaul
New Progressive Party Rep. Víctor Parés Otero (District 4 of San Juan) filed a bill on Tuesday which proposes that by 2032, 70 percent of all electricity generation in Puerto Rico will come from renewable sources.
“We want to achieve a truly green Puerto Rico and for that we have established a program that, although ambitious, can be fulfilled,” the lawmaker said at a press conference. “The bill that we will be presenting in the next few days establishes that, in a period of 10 years, by 2032, 70% of all generation must come from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass, which is defined as the use of vegetation and renewable natural gas, fuel generated through the degradation of organic matter, among others.”
The measure creates the “Strategic Plan for a Green Puerto Rico 2032,” establishing new compliance metrics, as well as severe penalties for not achieving them.
Parés Otero noted that the legislation would force the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to reach 40% in renewable energy by 2025, in accordance with the parameters of Law 17-2019, better known as the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Law. By 2030, the goal is 60% and two years later, 70%. Law 17-2019 designates the year 2050 for 100% of the electricity on the island to come from renewable sources.
“In the bill we are increasing the fines that the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau would impose on PREPA for not complying with the metrics,” Parés Otero said. “For example, if PREPA does not meet the 40% standard in 2025, it would have to pay $60,000 a day to the Bureau for violating the law. After 2026, the amount would rise to $90,000. PREPA has to comply; that is not optional.”
The legislator said the Energy Bureau would be in charge of inspecting and certifying compliance or noncompliance, as well as imposing fines. The proceeds from the fines would go to a Special Fund to Finance Green Projects, as well as financing the hiring of compliance inspectors.
Parés Otero also announced the filing of a joint resolution for PREPA to certify, in a period not exceeding 10 days, the real status of renewable energy projects and what percentage it expects to achieve by 2023.
“As you know, the war, started by the Russian Federation, against Ukraine has had multiple effects and one of them is the dizzying increase in the cost of a barrel of oil,” Parés Otero said. “Today, according to the United States Petroleum Index, the cost of a barrel stands at $118.11, an increase of $8 since Friday. According to estimates, it is forecast that the barrel will rise to $140 within 10 days. The effects of the war on the generation of electricity in Puerto Rico cannot yet be measured, but it is obvious that the costs of generating it will rise a lot. That is why we have to speed up the change.”
The lawmaker pointed out that at this time, oil generates 47.4% of the electricity in Puerto Rico, followed by 33% generated by natural gas, and around 16% by coal. Dependence on fossil fuels is prohibitive, he said, adding that Puerto Rico residents pay just over twice as much as citizens of the states of the union for the same amount of energy. Puerto Rico pays, on average, some $1.5 billion a year in the purchase of fossil fuel alone, and that sum goes up many times as a result of changes in the market, Parés Otero said.