On Eve of 50th Earth Day, EDF Files Reply Brief on PREPA’s Integrated Resource Plan

Statement from Daniel Whittle, EDF Senior Director of Caribbean Initiatives

April 20, 2020
Matthew McGee, (512) 691-3478, mmcgee@edf.org

(San Juan) Today, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed its reply brief regarding the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) outlining how the utility will manage the archipelago’s electric grid and energy resources over the next 20 years.

“This week marks a milestone - the 20-year plan for Puerto Rico’s energy future is in the final stages of development. If done right, this plan has the potential to completely modernize the electric grid and provide communities on the island with cleaner, more reliable electricity, which is certainly something to celebrate on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day,” said Daniel Whittle, EDF’s Senior Director of Caribbean Initiatives.

Following the IRP filing in February, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB), which oversees the quality and reliability of PREPA’s electricity services, raised three main questions about the plan. A short summary of EDF’s responses is shown in italics.

  1. Should rooftop solar arrays be used in lieu of utility-scale solar to improve Puerto Rico’s electric system?
    Both rooftop and utility-scale solar are important renewable energy resources. EDF recommends that PREB evaluate rooftop and utility-scale solar on a level playing field and approve an IRP that optimizes the use of both.
  2. Should existing hydroelectric facilities be rehabilitated?
    There is insufficient information about existing hydroelectric facilities provided in the proposed IRP. EDF recommends that PREPA conduct a thorough study on the potential of refurbishing and upgrading of hydroelectric facilities. The results of such a study should be released to the public long before PREPA takes any action in regards to the facilities.
  3. Should PREPA integrate the usage of cloud-based power plants, known as Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) that work remotely to aggregate independent energy resources in different locations into a single network?
    PREPA’s IRP did not address VPP technology, but EDF explained that VPPs offer a decentralized, consumer-centric solution which, when implemented correctly can reduce the cost of electricity for consumers by lowering or deferring grid investment costs.

EDF’s reply brief also addresses issues regarding PREPA’s reliance on liquified natural gas and supports arguments made by other intervening parties that the Energy Bureau should promote the expedited deployment of solar power with battery storage.

EDF has been actively involved throughout the IRP process and is developing an innovative project to demonstrate the feasibility of distributed energy resources, including microgrids, which can reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuels. These systems can be designed to connect to the larger grid to provide cleaner, more reliable energy every day, and can separate from the grid during emergencies to keep the lights on in parts of the island that need it most. For more information, visit www.edf.org/PuertoRico.

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