Senate panel queries Energy Bureau on Genera PR contract
Of the 11 power plants to be operated by Genera PR, Puerto Rico Energy Bureau Chairman Edison Avilés Deliz said: “No matter how much we fix them, they are destined to die and therefore, if they die of natural causes, Genera PR does not have the need to exist.”
By THE STAR STAFF
The Senate Strategic Projects and Energy Committee, chaired by Sen. Javier Aponte Dalmau, resumed public hearings on Thursday to investigate matters related to the island’s electrical energy system, where the increase in energy costs and the new contract with Genera PR, which will be privatizing the operation of 11 Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) generation units, were discussed.
“Far from what has been said, that this is a generation privatization contract, it is not …,” Aponte Dalmau said in a side note. “We said it from the beginning, that what it was about was that there were some units … that had to be addressed and that there are some federal funds, due to the effects of hurricanes Irma and Maria, that were available and an extensive bidding process was carried out. Here whoever evaluates these contracts has said that these contracts that are being established are not to replace the permanent generation of energy, because that goes against the energy policy that was approved.”
For those purposes, the committee summoned Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) Chairman Edison Avilés Deliz and PREB commissioner Lillian Mateo Santos to depose.
“Genera [PR] puts itself in the shoes of the Electric Power Authority even for environmental compliance purposes. … Therefore, they have to adapt the Integrated Resource Plan [IRP],” Avilés Deliz said regarding the contract. “The IRP gives a certain life to the authority’s plants that is tied to that useful life and determined by the entry of renewable energy according to Law 16. [And] it is not in the picture, neither for the Authority, nor for Genera PR, which provides gas conversions of these units.”
During her question time, Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. María de Lourdes Santiago Negrón noted that “for each of the generating plants, there is an estimated date of disappearance.” Avilés Díaz responded that “these plants are over 30, 40, 50, 60 years old. …”
“The useful life that is typically contemplated is 30 to 40 years and these plants exceed that. …” he said. “No matter how much we fix them, they are destined to die and therefore, if they die of natural causes, Genera PR does not have the need to exist.”
In turn, Mateo Santos said that “our race is to have the renewable [energy] replacement before they die and leave us without capacity.”
Popular Democratic Party Sen. Ramón Ruiz Nieves asked for an explanation from the PREB chairman of the contract that was signed Wednesday with Genera PR.
“This contract is an operation and maintenance contract to maintain and operate the so-called legacy plants, until they go out of operation because they have been replaced by renewable energy or by any other generation that enters the system; either through a PPOA with the same authority or through private investment,” Avilés Deliz said. “That was what was signed.”