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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Renewable energy projects qualify for financing under US Energy Department program

By The Star Staff

The Loan Programs Office (LPO), attached to the US Department of Energy, has announced that renewable energy generation and storage projects that the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is developing as part of its Acquisition Plan, are eligible for financing under the Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) program.

Under the EIR program, renewable energy and battery-energy storage project developers can apply for ultra-low-interest, federally backed loans for up to 30 years.

“This is excellent news for Puerto Rico, as it makes my administration’s goal of transforming the electrical system into a resilient, reliable, clean, and affordable one even more viable,” Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro R. Pierluisi said in a recent statement. “We appreciate the decision of the Loan Programs Office of the federal Department of Energy, while we emphasize our commitment to continue efforts to continue advancing in compliance with our public energy policy”

The executive director of the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority, Omar J. Marrero, was confident that the decision would support efforts to achieve a prompt transition to renewable sources.

“After months of close collaboration with the federal Department of Energy, we can say that we are confident that this determination will open the doors to an enormous injection of financing that should expedite the construction and deployment of new large-scale renewable energy assets in Puerto Rico,” he said.

The chairman of the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (NEPR), Edison Avilés Deliz, indicated that the decision validates the PREB’s work as a regulatory entity for the energy sector in Puerto Rico.

“At PREB, we remain focused on doing everything necessary to meet the goals established by law and regulation, and above all, ensuring at all times the balance that protects the public interest,” explained Avilés Deliz.

As required by PREB, PREPA is executing a Procurement Plan to replace its fossil fuel generation assets with renewable energy generation and storage systems to achieve the public policy objectives of achieving 40% renewable energy generation by 2025, 60% by 2040, and 100% by 2050.

PREPA’s Procurement Plan is divided into phases. At each stage, PREPA publishes a Request for Proposals (RFP) to develop renewable energy projects capable of meeting certain generation goals. PREPA has executed several agreements for eligible technologies under the first stage of the Acquisition Plan. The RFP for the second tranche is currently in process. In contrast, the third fair tranche opened its proposal period on Tuesday, July 18.

The LPO determines that the projects already contracted under the first tranche of PREPA’s Acquisition Plan and those to be contracted under the second and third tranches would replace parts of the energy infrastructure that have ceased operating. This makes such projects partially eligible for the EIR, one of four components of the Clean Energy Financing Program under Title 17 of the US Energy Policy Act. Unlike the other three programs under the Title 17 program, projects under the EIR do not require the technology used in the project to be novel.

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