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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Plan to temporary generators to prevent blackouts was pitched to energy regulator a month ago

FEMA Federal Coordinator Nancy Casper

By The Star Staff

Before Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced the installation of temporary generators to prevent blackouts this week, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) had considered a measure to that effect a month ago.

Tomás Torres Placa, the consumer representative on the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) governing board, said LUMA Energy had asked the PREB to approve the installation of electrical generators after the passage of Hurricane Fiona. LUMA said the power generators were needed to provide service while PREPA’s generating units were in repair and maintenance.

“The matter was under consideration,” Torres Placa told the STAR on Wednesday

Pierluisi announced with fanfare the increase in generation capacity on Tuesday, arguing that he had requested the generators from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in October.

FEMA Federal Coordinator Nancy Casper said the proposals from PREPA’s Stabilization Task Force, created by FEMA at the governor’s request, included installing temporary generation using generating barges and high-capacity portable generators for up to one year.

In fact, FEMA already has specific units identified and is taking steps to contract and mobilize them to Puerto Rico, which can take between one and six months, Casper said.

Additionally, FEMA is working expeditiously at existing generating plants to allow the reincorporation of units in need of repairs, she said.

The Puerto Rico Power System Stabilization Task Force includes: FEMA, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“This assistance would be in addition to the funds that we already have assigned to the power grid,” Casper said. “The priority is to provide stability in the shortest time possible and thus be able to repair the system before the next hurricane season. Also, the aid considers and respects the Integrated Resource Plan and the renewable energy goals of our energy public policy.”

“The temporary generation will allow us to repair generating units that we are using today and that we cannot turn off to make repairs, since we do not have enough generating capacity,” Pierluisi said.

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