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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

PREPA plans to apply for $250 million in federal funds to boost hydroelectric power

Most of Puerto Rico’s hydroelectric power plants, some of which date back to the 1920s, are abandoned.

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is working on an application package to seek an estimated $250 million from the federal government to increase to 125 megawatts (MW) the level of power entering the island electrical grid from hydroelectric power plants.

Jaime Umpierre, who heads PREPA’s hydrogas division, said that only 25% of the installed 100 MW is currently available. Most of Puerto Rico’s hydroelectric power plants, some of which go back to the 1920s, are abandoned.

Umpierre said at a recent PREPA board meeting that the objective is to replace the existing technology with new technology. To that effect, PREPA is working with the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction, and Resilience (COR3) to develop an application package to obtain Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.

“The plan is to increase the generation capacity to 125 megawatts; this includes the restoration of abandoned sites like Isabela and Carite,” he said.

PREPA also reported in a motion to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) last week that it has appointed Umpierre and PREPA Board chairman Fernando Gil Enseñat to a selection committee in charge of choosing the firms that will add some 500 MW of renewable energy and 250 MW of storage to the system as part of the Tranche 2 bids.

The requirement for renewable energy is part of the Integrated Resource Plan that required PREPA to draw by 2025 about 40% of its energy from renewable sources.

In October 2021, the PREB decided to appoint an independent contractor to deal with the Tranche 2 projects because of delays by PREPA.

PREPA then made requests to the PREB as to its role in the Tranche 2 bids.

On June 9 of this year, PREB issued a resolution and order creating a selection committee for the evaluation and selection of proposals submitted under the request for proposals (RFP) process for Tranche 2 through 6 projects for renewable and battery resources.

The six-member committee is composed of the following members: the executive director of the Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnership Authority or his/her delegate; one officer of PREPA directly involved in the RFP process or his/her delegate; one member of PREPA’s governing board; two officials from other government entities with knowledge and/or experience in related transactions (to be selected by the PREB) and one representative from LUMA Energy, the private operator of PREPA’s transmission and distribution system, with knowledge and/or experience in related transactions. According to the Resolution, Action Group LLC, an independent coordinator hired by the PREB, will carry out the RFP solicitation and bid evaluation process.

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