Apart from leadership problems in the Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the division of power in energy issues complicates the scenario for a quick and efficient renewal of the power generation, transmission and distribution system, several experts agreed during the hearing held yesterday by the Board in New York.
On one hand, there are the government's proposals for the Fiscal Plan of PREPA; on the other, the planning in the Integrated Resource Plan approved by the Energy Commission. Added to this are the pressures and proposals of the creditors and the initiatives of the StateOffice of Energy Policy (SOEP).
"We must also recognize that it is not clear to Puerto Ricans who, how and when. Too many people, be it the Board, Mr. (Noel) Zamot (the Revitalization Coordinator of the Board), the governor, all the lawyers, are trying to see who is in charge, who will lead this and who will regulate," said during his speech Josen Rossi, president of the Institute of Competitiveness and Sustainable Economy..
"We are scaring (consumers), investors and (losing) collaboration opportunities to avoid conflicts and the possibility of a debt adjustment so we can start talking about new projects," he added.
The speakers repeatedly demanded a uniform view on the energy transformation of Puerto Rico, given the variety of voices and shared powers.
Some spoke of microgrids, while others warned about the loss of income in PREPA if the generation depended on small and private producers. No source was ruled out for the generation of electricity, beyond petroleum derivatives.
Consensus on this "forward-looking approach" was that the renewal of the system should stimulate private investment, not only in the energy system, but in the economy in general, with competitive rates and high quality service.
Iván Román, spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical Industry Association, indicated that the factories in Puerto Rico, in addition to the costs, are very susceptible to variations in voltage and service interruption even when they last only minutes.
He explained that many power plants have equipment so sensitive that a variation in voltage can involve considerable losses.
For his part, Iván Báez, of the Puerto Rico Retailers Association, expressed himself in similar terms. In his case, he emphasized that the investments or expansions of many companies are delayed by the high costs of electricity, which reduce profit margins.
"Given the high level of technology in terms of the equipment we use and the manufacturing processes we follow, we are very sensitive to the quality of the energy. For us, quality is the most significant aspect when we talk about energy", said Roman, during the hearing.
David Owens, from the Transformation Advisory Council of PREPA, an body created by the Governing Board of the public corporation, indicated that, precisely, that they are working in the creation of a joint vision between the different components of the system.
"We believe that it is very important that all those involved in this, not only PREPA, the Energy Division of PRREPA or FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) or the Board, but all interests, look through the same lens. These are essential debates. We can debate if we are going to have a decentralized power grid and other things, but it is essential that we agree on certain factors and that means giving voice to consumers," Owens said.
To achieve this, he said, both the fiscal documents and the Integrated Resource Plan and other documents that affect the restoration of the electricity system, are being examined.
Stephen Doig of the Rocky Mountain Institute, an organization that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy sources, recommended that the energy transformation begin with small pilot microgrid projects so that the initiatives that would and would not succeed in Puerto Rico can be examined.
This way, we would have the necessary information to make larger scale decisions in the renewal of the system.
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