• The Star Staff

Waste-to-energy developer asks Judge Swain to reconsider ruling on PREPA agreements

By The Star Staff

The developer of a waste-to-energy (WTE) plant planned for Arecibo wants U.S. District Court Judge Laura Taylor Swain to reconsider last week’s ruling allowing the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to reject some 27 power purchase operating agreements (PPOAs).

EIF PR Resource Recovery LLC (EIFPR) argued that the waste-to-energy project is a project that addresses the solid waste crisis that currently exists in Puerto Rico with the lack of legally compliant solid waste alternatives and the need for baseload types of energy sources for PREPA. When the project was seeking permits, it was opposed by various environmental groups.

PREPA filed the petition recently, arguing that the 27 PPOAs had not yet started or were too cumbersome for the utility. On Sept. 17, Swain issued an order in favor of PREPA’s petition after announcing it at a hearing the day before.

As part of its efforts to protect its proprietary rights as lender of the WTE project and with the intent of making it feasible for development, EIFPR said it had filed related reconsideration requests before the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) and the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.

On Aug. 24, the PREB issued a resolution on the Integrated Resource Plan in which it rejected the WTE plant. On Sept. 11, EIFPR and its collateral agent, V-Financial LLC filed a motion for reconsideration.

“The WTE project is based on state-of-the-art facilities that incorporate and utilize the Best Available Control Technology as defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) for the recovery of energy from non-hazardous solid wastes, thereby reducing the dependency on fossil fuel, in addition to reducing emissions of atmospheric contaminants,” the developer said in its petition.

The proposed project is consistent with Puerto Rico’s renewable and diversification energy objectives, environmental protection goals and baseload energy needs, among other public policy declarations, the petition says.

“In addition to the energy-related benefits, the WTE project provides a sustainable alternative to the solid wastes disposal crisis in Puerto Rico,” the petition states. “As part of the hardships suffered after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Puerto Rico in 2017, it is evident that Puerto Rico needs to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and faces enormous amounts of waste generation that accentuate the waste disposal crisis.”

The WTE project would introduce a materials separation plan consistent with the public policy goal of 35 percent reduction and recycling, plus an 80 percent volume reduction of the waste that must be landfilled, according to the petition. The proposed refuse-derived fuel WTE technology would be among the technologies capable of producing baseload power for PREPA at a competitive price that would be lower than PREPA’s existing power generation costs, the document states. The project also represents a major annual greenhouse gas reduction of over 1.1 million tons per year of CO2-equivalent emissions, the petition adds.

In addition, PREPA must also consider other criteria including, but not limited to, system reliability, short and long-term risk, transmission needs and implications, distribution needs and implications, financial impacts on PREPA, and the public interest as set forth in the Energy Act, EIFPR’s petition states. Where meeting the needs is associated with quantifiable costs, these costs are to be included in the calculation of the present value of revenue requirements, it says.

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