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Puerto Rico works to tap renewable energy as part of better storm prep

Puerto Rico works to tap renewable energy as part of better storm prep
Issue Time:2018-11-13

The Puerto Rican Energy Electric Authority is working to use more renewable energy, partially as a way to harden its power generation and distribution system against future hurricanes.

"In terms of generation, something very important that will happen is that we will add capacity to the network with batteries and with rapid response units that it will allow renewable energy," Jose Ortiz, director of the authority, told El Nuevo Dia in an interview.

"Renewable energy is good as it is clean, but it is unstable and variable. It is not trustworthy unless you have back-up and that is what we are doing," he added.

There are four consortia pre-selected for supplying the batteries for the system -- AES Puerto Rico, LP, Fluence Energy, Power Secure and Tesla. The batteries will have 120 MW minimum capacity and be placed in three substations to be located in Humacao, Carolina and Bayamon by the first quarter of 2019.

As for the rapid response complementary equipment needed for the use of the renewable energy, it will involve 18 units with 30 MW capacity each.

Renewable energy will help Puerto Rico's plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by half.

In addition, the authority is working to shorten the time needed to restore electricity the next time a storm, even one that is not as strong as Hurricane Maria in 2017, hits the island again.

The plan involves dividing Puerto Rico into eight independent grids, each with renewable energy as well as other back-up generation systems, as well as moving the transmission lines.

The lines currently run through areas of very difficult access, which made repairs after Maria very cumbersome. The plan is to place the lines alongside highways, with work lasting about a decade.

Puerto Rican authorities took a long time to reestablish electricity after Maria left the island in the dark following the storm's landfall September 20, 2017.

Primera Hora newspaper reported January 24 that hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses were still without power at the time. Workers from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and electricity contractors worked for 11 months to fully reestablish power to the island.

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