Puerto Rico nears awards for 800 MW solar and 220 MW storage, toward multi-GW goals


Puerto Rico’s utility PREPA has forwarded project bids for 800 MW of utility-scale solar and 220 MW of storage to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau for approval.

Both the Energy Bureau and the Financial Oversight and Management Board (FOMB) must approve the proposals before contracts are finalized, said PJ Wilson, president of the Solar + Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico (SESA). PREPA said that the offers would also need final approval from PREPA’s executive director and its governing board, Wilson noted.

The Energy Bureau asked PREPA to obtain FOMB approval of the bids, and to forward six more bids for storage projects totaling 445MW, by January 10. PREPA then filed, and requested confidentiality for, a request of the Energy Bureau to provide clarification, among other items, according to an Energy Bureau spokesperson.

SESA’s Chief Policy Officer Javier Rúa-Jovet expressed hope that the competitive bidding process, which yielded 72 bids for about 3 GW of renewables, achieved winning bid prices that will satisfy the FOMB. FOMB was created by the U.S. law known as PROMESA.

The solar and storage bids were in response to the first of six requests for proposals (RFPs) that the Energy Bureau requested in 2020 guidance, which combined would add 3.75 GW of solar or equivalent energy and 1.5 GW of 4-hour battery storage to the island’s grid. The Energy Bureau’s guidance came in an order responding to PREPA’s integrated resource plan. The guidance called for RFPs to be issued every six months from December 2020 through June 2023, so that projects could go online by 2025.

PREPA also has bids totaling 200 MW of virtual power plants (VPPs), Wilson said, and plans to submit those bids to the Energy Bureau by January 30. The VPPs are made up of distributed generation, storage, and demand response resources.

A second RFP is being planned that would target 500 MW solar and 250 MW storage, provided it follows the Energy Bureau’s guidance. Interested parties may register for updates from the RFP’s independent coordinator Accion Group.

Puerto Rico’s new transmission and distribution operator Luma “appears to be making lots of progress” in working through a backlog of thousands of interconnection requests for distributed solar, Wilson said. Luma approved 11,000 rooftop systems totaling 64 MW of solar, said the company’s website, thus cutting the backlog of requests to 4,000 systems totaling 25 MW.

Puerto Rico’s Act 17, enacted in 2019, requires PREPA to reach 20% renewable generation by 2022, 40% by 2025, 60% by 2040, and 100% by 2050. The Energy Bureau is developing a regulation to implement the law, Wilson said. He noted that each 10% toward the 100% goal could be met by about one gigawatt of solar power.

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