The 6.4 magnitude earthquake severely impacted the Costa Sur power plant in Guayanilla causing so serious structural damage that the plant remains out of operation. (GFR Media)

PREPA´s Integrated Resources Plan will consider the effect of the January 7 earthquake on the power grid, seeking to build new infrastructure more resistant to this and other natural events.

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake severely impacted the Costa Sur power plant in Guayanilla causing so serious structural damage that the plant remains out of operation. PREPA is conducting a major inspection on the plant to determine whether they could repair it or they have to replace it.

Starting tomorrow -and throughout the month- the Bureau will lead a public discussion process on the Plan. This document, required by law, establishes how the investment in generation should be to meet the energy demand over the next 20 years and, in turn, ensure the reliability, efficiency, and transparency of the system.

"We are going to consider the impact on the Costa Sur plant and the different possibilities, for example, that the plant enters the system or if it is better to use the money for repairs in another type of generation. That is what the Integrated Resources Plan is about, choosing the generation mix, at the least possible cost, for the benefit of consumers," said Puerto Rico Energy Bureau President Edison Avilés.

Technical hearings will be held between tomorrow and Friday at the Energy Bureau headquarters in Hato Rey, the first panel will address the effect of the earthquakes - which persist - in the island´s southern area. PREPA's Executive Director, José Ortiz, and other public officials will participate in the panel.

"This plan is the cornerstone of electricity generation for the next 20 years. Does that mean it's written in stone? No, because the law allows us to revise it every three years, so that it is in line with real needs," Avilés said.

"We had a plan approved here, but we were hit by a 140-mile-an-hour hurricane and we had to start a new process to build a resilient system adaptable to that reality. That's what we're going to do now with the earthquakes," he added.

In general terms, the Plan includes several scenarios on the island's energy future already prepared by PREPA. Among the multiple options, the public utility offers a favorite scenario, but Avilés explained that this will not necessarily be the one selected at the end of the discussion and evaluation process.

"That is precisely what this process is for... for the parties to positively or negatively discuss the proposals. Based on the evidence, the Bureau determines whether to choose on the favorite scenario, another proposal or a hybrid scenario," Avilés said.

Ensuring 100 percent of renewable sources generation by 2050 and that AES Puerto Rico coal-fired cogeneration plant will no longer burn coal by 2028 and that any fossil fuel technology must be highly efficient, among others, are some ofthe provisions that should be included in the Plan.

Auditors or parties whose interests may be affected by the Plan will participate in the hearings. However, between February 11 and 25, there will hold public hearings in San Juan, Arecibo, Humacao, Mayagüez, and Ponce.

"The process is designed for Spanish and English speakers, and translation will be provided. The hearings will be broadcast live and recorded to be available after the hearings. At the end of the day, what we are looking for is the best interest of the people," he said.

Avilés estimates the final version of the Plan will be ready by the end of March or early April.

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