Puerto Rico Seeks 100 Percent Renewable Energy

A special legislative commission is considering a bill that would aid the U.S. territory to meet its electric demand with 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the Puerto Rican government is proposing the enactment of the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, a bill focusing on committing the island to a 100 percent renewable energy grid by 2050. Senate Bill 1121 was introduced by the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Energy Affairs, Larry Seilhamer, and Senate Minority Leader Eduardo Bhatia.

The bill’s purpose is to eliminate the monopoly held for decades by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) by allowing the sale of PREPA’s power plants while putting the transmission and distribution systems under a private concessionaire. Consequently, the strategy would begin to shift the power grid away from its resilience on oil and toward renewables.

Energy goals

The initial objectives of the Energy Public Policy Act include eliminating the use of coal-based energy companies by 2028, prioritizing solar instead and integrating prosumers through mechanism such as net metering or tariff designs which promote behind the meter generation. The act also includes the reaching of 20 percent compliance with the Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2025, 50 percent compliance by 2040 and 100 percent compliance by 2050. Furthermore, the act promotes energy storage technologies across consumer classes to facilitate integration of renewables and capitalize distributed energy resources.

The bill would also exempt solar panels for energy storage from sales tax and “will guide a resilient, reliable and robust energy system, with fair rates and reasonable for all classes of consumers, making it possible for the user of the energy service to produce and participate in the generation of energy, facilitate interconnection of distributed generation and micro networks, and disaggregate and transform the electrical system to an open one,” according to the draft text.