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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PREB gives LUMA green light for $400 million in power projects

Transmission towers carry power lines through the mountains in eastern Puerto Rico on Feb. 4, 2018. LUMA Energy plans to install $321.7 million in power lines, according to documents submitted to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau. (Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) recently allowed LUMA Energy, the private operator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system, to move forward with over $400 million in new projects.

In addition to using $124.5 million in the purchase of a 230 kilovolt (kV) “redeployable” transformer, LUMA Energy will install $321.7 million in seven power lines, according to documents submitted to the PREB.

The transformer to be placed in Bayamón is for responding to weather and other natural hazard-caused outages, forced outage repairs, and resiliency against sabotage and attacks.

The additional redundancy is essential to facilitate transmission center repairs in a future storm event. The project also proposes replacing 230/115 kV, 115/38 kV, 115/13.2 kV and 13.2/4.16 kV transformers; replacing 230 kV oil circuit breakers with new gas circuit breakers; new sub-transmission lines/poles for the 13.2 kV, 38 kV,115 kV, and 230 kV services; and other equipment.

The projects will be paid for using federal funds.

LUMA also plans to build new transmission lines across Puerto Rico. Detailed transmission planning studies using power flow and engineering analyses following the North American Electric Reliability Corporation standard have demonstrated violations or unacceptable system operating conditions when the system is subjected to credible outages, including outages experienced during Hurricane Maria.

The violations include equipment loading beyond its ratings and acceptable limits, cascading outages because of those overloads, significant load pockets outages after losing a single piece of equipment, and/or having an unacceptable voltage profile in the system.

The seven lines are initial lines which need to be prioritized, but additional lines may be included in the program as operational realities change, LUMA said.

The lines will go from the Juncos Transmission Center (TC) to the Gautier Benítez Sector, from the Juncos TC to Humacao, from the Santa Isabel TC to the Hamilton Santa Isabel Sector, from the Canas TC to Buena Vista Sector, from the Barceloneta TC to Cambalache TC and ASDA Arecibo, from the Humacao TC to Arro Substation, and from the Hatillo TC to Mora TC.

Each individual transmission line project will undergo a feasibility assessment, modeling and analysis to validate design criteria, including electrical clearance and mechanical loading requirements.

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