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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

USVI governor urges US Senate on grid link to Puerto Rico for energy security

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan

By The Star Staff

U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan asked the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday for help building a Caribbean energy grid linking Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands that can help stabilize the electrical system in the neighboring U.S. territory.

“We propose bold new thinking around a Caribbean energy grid linking Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Bryan said. “For too long, the people of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have been plagued by extremely expensive and unreliable power. Today, each of the Caribbean territories faces an acute crisis in power generation and transmission.”

Problems in power generation and transmission directly impact the quality of life and the safety of Americans living in the territories, he noted.

“Chronically unreliable and costly power also stifles investment and economic development in the territories, the U.S.V.I. governor said. “Americans living on the mainland have reliable power for their hospitals, schools, homes, and businesses. Americans in the territories deserve the same guarantee of basic services. As the nation looks toward rebuilding aging infrastructure, we ask that Congress join us in bold solutions, linking Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands together in a new Caribbean energy grid promising increased reliability and lower costs achievable through economies of scale, decreased duplication, and clean, renewable energy.”

Bryan also asked for help to reopen an oil refinery in St. Croix that could provide national energy security to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Sadly, not much has changed in regard to our oil refinery in St. Croix since this time last year, when I asked for congressional assistance getting the refinery reopened,” he said. “Nearly our entire industrial economy turns on the refinery.”

The refinery provided up to $70 million in annual tax revenues, and without it, the U.S.V.I. suffers $633 million in reduced gross domestic product. After a $2 billion private investment overhauling the refinery, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shut it down in 2021. It remains closed today.

The refinery on St. Croix can provide the nation with much-needed energy security, Bryan reiterated. It can also provide the U.S. Virgin Islands with much-needed local energy security and economic opportunity, and presents the opportunity of a local lifeline to Puerto Rico, which is facing an energy crisis of its own, he said.

“One of the largest in the Western Hemisphere, the refinery is important for our national energy security,” the governor said. “Last year, Putin’s war highlighted the fragility of both national and global energy markets. Gas prices spiked, and access to winter heating fuel was put in jeopardy. Making matters worse, we face a national shortage in refining capacity, propelled by years of uncertain policy toward fossil fuels that has dampened the investment climate in capital-intensive refining assets. While we are fully supportive of the green revolution and moving aggressively as a territory and a nation to diversify into renewables, we still need fossil fuel to keep the lights on reliably. We need refining capacity.”

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Rose Rose
Rose Rose
11. Feb. 2023

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