PREPA: Accion Group published green energy RFP too soon
By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has complained that Accion Group, the firm hired to act as independent coordinator (IC) to move forward proposed renewable energy projects, published a notice related to Tranche 2 projects prematurely.
PREPA Executive Director Josue Colón Ortiz said in a statement that the energy sector regulator, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB), has not defined or established the responsibilities of each party in the process for the Tranche 2 projects as it did with Tranche 1 projects.
On Jan. 11, Accion Group announced it was requesting proposals for 500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy and 250 MW for energy storage resources for PREPA pursuant to Tranche 2 projects.
The notice said Accion Group and the PREB were going to host a stakeholder webinar tentatively scheduled for Jan. 28 and asked interested potential market participants and others to register for the webinar through the IC website.
PREPA said that on Dec. 13 and again on Jan. 14, it filed motions asking the PREB to designate Accion Group as independent coordinator along with a list of instructions and dispositions detailing the process to be followed to move the Tranche 2 projects forward.
Prior to that, it was published that on Dec. 13 that PREB had signed a contract with Acción Group to work as independent coordinator in the Tranche 2 process, which was followed last week by the Tranche 2 notice.
“However, the PREB has not published an official resolution defining and establishing the process and responsibilities of the parties in the Tranche 2 request for proposals [RFP],” PREPA said in a statement.
Colón Ortiz reaffirmed PREPA’s commitment to move forward on the utility’s transition process. However, he noted that in the process to get the Tranche 1 process forward, PREB published a document titled Joint Regulation for the Procurement, Evaluation, Selection, Negotiation and Award of Contracts for the Purchase of Energy and for the Procurement, Evaluation, Selection, Negotiation and Award Process for the Modernization of the Generation Fleet.
“In our interest to be transparent with the people of Puerto Rico and in compliance with the provisions established by the PREB, PREPA authorized the Tranche 1 renewable energy process in compliance with Rule 8815,” Colón Ortiz said. “Also in the Tranche 1 process, the Authority used the digital program Power Advocate, a specialized system for the management of data. This platform allowed all proponents access to all communications and documents related to the RFP.”
The Tranche 1 projects, which sought to obtain 1,000 MW of renewables and 500 MW of battery storage, including 150 MW of virtual power, were first published in February. By November, PREPA sent a final proposal to the selected proponents for a power purchase and operating agreement, but on Nov. 8, the PREB ordered PREPA to present the results of the selection of proposals with the evaluation of prices by Nov. 12 and to complete the evaluation by Dec. 1.
PREPA, however, requested a seven-day extension of the Dec. 1 deadline. After a brief process, on Dec. 15, PREPA’s board approved and authorized the presentation of the proposals selected by the PREB and the Financial Oversight and Management Board.
As of Dec. 16, 2021, PREPA had reached agreements in principle to contract about 733 MW of renewable energy and 220 MW of battery energy storage systems. PREPA did not recommend contracting more energy in Tranche 1 since the prices at which those contracts were being offered were very high and therefore to the detriment of the consumer.
Colón Ortiz said that “while continuing to work with Tranche 1, the Tranche 2 process was also being worked on in parallel.”
“On October 15, 2021, the draft RFP document for Tranche 2 was presented for evaluation and approval of the PREB,” he said. “But on October 29, 2021, PREB sent a Resolution and Order to the Authority indicating that the Tranche 2 process would be carried out through an independent coordinator and that an additional resolution would establish the powers and responsibilities of this coordinator, in addition to the role of the Electric Power Authority in the Tranche 2 RFP process.
The PREB said at the time that it was dissatisfied with the manner in which PREPA was handling the process.