Puerto Rico Governor “soft vetoes” 100% renewable energy bill

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Today the hope that Puerto Rico would move to 100% renewable energy was set back with Governor Rosselló ordering the island’s House of Representatives to send SB 773 – which would have required that the territory completely move off of thermal electricity generation by 2050 – back to committee.

According to Meghan Nutting, executive VP of policy and communications at Sunnova, Governor Rosselló nixed the bill due to a provision which would have provided a 75% tax credit for renewable energy systems in years 2019 and 2020, and which declined thereafter. According to local press, the Department of Finance had also objected to this provision.

Other sources close to pv magazine have cited the sensitive issue of labor agreements for employees of PREPA, the island’s state-run utility.

This move was foreshadowed three days ago when Governor Rosselló issued an executive order to create a cross-agency committee to study actions to take to combat climate change. Local publication El Nuevo Día says the executive order sets the groundwork for a move to 40% renewable energy in five years (which is not mentioned in the order itself), however Jigar Shah called the move “meaningless” on LinkedIn.

It is difficult to read the tea leaves at this point. Governor Rosselló has been vocally in favor of a move to 100% renewables, and there is another piece of legislation (SB 1121) which calls for 50% renewable energy by 2040 and 100% by 2050.

Two of the biggest companies which pv magazine spoke with said that this new legislation is the focus of their efforts. “We’re laser-focused on passing SB 1121,” Sunrun Senior Manager of Public Affairs Andy Newbold told pv magazine.

However, time is running out in Puerto Rico’s legislative session and it is not clear that SB 1121 can pass Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives by this date.