Puerto Rico awaits first procurements to add 3.75 GW solar, 1.5 GW storage


The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau ordered the utility PREPA to issue six procurements in the next 30 months, totaling 3.75 GW of solar and 1.5 GW of four-hour storage, or their equivalents.

PREPA will issue the first of the six procurements “as early in 2021 as possible,” the utility said in a regulatory filing. Regulators had set a target release date of last December for that first procurement, to secure 1,000 MW of solar and 500 MW of storage.

A study released by PREPA in mid-January, however, concludes that Puerto Rico’s grid can handle only 650 MW of utility-scale renewable generation, including existing renewables. That value does not reflect “expected system upgrades or energy storage systems that will be incorporated in the near future,” said the study, prepared by engineering consultants Sargent & Lundy.

In an apparent reference to the study, PREPA Board Chairman Ralph Kreil told local newspaper El Nuevo Dia, “We understand that the system supports between 500 and 600 megawatts” of renewables, “and the Bureau understands that it must be 1,000,” according to a Google translation of the Spanish-language quote. Kreil added that PREPA’s request for proposals will call for 1,000 MW of solar, “as the Bureau says, and we will see what happens.”

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau’s dockets for this matter are NEPR-MI-2020-0012 and CEPR-AP-2018-0001.

“We have 3% renewable energy” in Puerto Rico, said PJ Wilson, president of the Solar + Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico. “We can build 2,000 MW of renewables before we get the integration challenges that they saw in Hawaii and elsewhere. Let’s get construction going on those 2,000 MW now, and solve the integration challenges for higher levels as we go.”

Wilson said that PREPA indicated last week that each solar and storage procurement would be issued via the utility’s software, PowerAdvocate. He charged that the procurements would be “posted publicly nowhere” so that “not even the Energy Bureau” would be able to see it. The association he leads plans to ask the Energy Bureau to order PREPA to post each request for proposals in a public docket.

Puerto Rico’s Act 17, enacted in 2019, requires PREPA to reach 20% renewable generation by 2022 and 40% renewables by 2025.

The Energy Bureau’s Final Resolution and Order on PREPA’s integrated resource plan provided a target schedule of six solar and storage procurements by June 2023, which is intended to enable the projects to go online by 2025:

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