PUERTO RICO

PUERTO RICO

PUERTO RICO

Acquired by the United States from Spain in 1898, Puerto Rico became ratified as a Commonwealth in 1952With a population of 3.2 million  people, Puerto Rico has more people than 21 U.S. states and a territory of 3,425 square miles, making it slightly bigger than Connecticut. Located in the Carribean, Puerto Rico is made up of 143 small islands, islets, and cays with one main central island bearing its name. Mostly mountainous, except for the coastal lowlands and the karst region in the north, which consists of formations of rugged limestone like sinkholes, caves, cliffs, and haystack hills, Puerto Rico is decidedly a rainforest, getting more than 100 billion gallons a year of rainfall, and providing a home to many species found nowhere else on earth. Among the territory’s native fauna is its unofficial mascot, the coquí tree frog, a tiny creature that makes a distinctive high-pitched chirping noise heard throughout Puerto Rico.

Climate change has been especially harsh on Puerto Rico. As changes to the climate have exacerbated hurricanes, they have hit Puerto Rico extremely hard. Hurricane Maria, sweeping through Puerto Rico in September of 2017, brought as much rainfall in one day as the island usually sees in three months. It was the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, costing the island as much as $139 billion as it struggled to recover from all the damage. 

Sea level rise is another imminent danger to Puerto Rico, with 85% of its population living within five miles of a coast. Puerto Rico’s seas are about half a foot higher since 1880 when records began, and the rate of the growth is only accelerating, with scientists projecting 22 inches by 2060. This trend has made ports, roads, and other infrastructure extremely vulnerable. Sea level rise combined with storm surges cause flooding, which has a direct effect on Puerto Rican daily life as well as on tourism (making up 8% of the island’s economy).

Climate change is also responsible for the collapse of the insect population in Puerto Rico’s rainforests, causing devastating effects to the island’s ecosystems. Insects are a vital food source for many of Puerto Rico’s creatures, including the coqui frog. As the creatures that eat insects die, their predators lose their food source as well, causing reverberations through the food chain. Insects are also vital to plant pollination, so loss of insects additionally harms the flora and fauna of Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico’s energy customers currently face high prices as they primarily import fossil fuels for power generation. When extreme weather like hurricanes impede the fuel supply, it leaves Puerto Ricans helpless without its own generating power. This makes it especially vital for Puerto Rico to switch over to renewables generated locally. But, the island is on its way. After Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has been rebuilding its power grid to transition to clean resources, including the largest solar and energy storage buildout in the United StatesIn 2019, they adopted the Puerto Rico Public Policy Act, setting a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050, with interim goals of 40% renewables by 2025 and 50% by 2040. In August 2020, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) moved forward in the direction of renewables, directing the procurement of at least 3.5 GW of solar and 1.36 GW of battery storage by 2025.

Even earlier, in 2013, the Puerto Rican government passed an executive order instructing their Energy Affairs Administration to develop a scientific study quantifying the amount of greenhouse gases generated in Puerto Rico within one year of its enactment. Based on this study, local government agencies would be able to develop an integrated and sustainable strategy aimed at reducing and removing a significant amount of these pollutants.

And earlier still, in 2010, Puerto Rico enacted a policy to introduce the use of a renewable energy credit system as a mechanism to stimulate the production of renewable energy within the territory. However, Puerto Rico has yet to develop an operational emission trading scheme to engage in the emissions trading market.

The Puerto Rican government is also trying its best to promote green tourism, even launching a Green Tourism mobile application, which promotes the areas protected by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources. 

As of 2019, Puerto Rico used petroleum to fuel 40% of the island’s total electricity generation, natural gas 39%, coal 18%, and renewables 2.3%. Of those renewables, solar and wind made up two-fifths each — Puerto Rico is home to both the largest solar photovoltaic facility and the largest wind farm in the Caribbean. Though Puerto Rico’s goal of 40% renewable energy seems far off, it’s worth mentioning that solar is growing extremely fast on the island, with their Electric Power Authority planning to add up to 1,800 megawatts of solar power and 920 megawatts of additional battery storage between 2019 and 2025. It has also signed a separate agreement to add 201 megawatts of solar, wind, and landfill gas-generated energy to the power grid.

Puerto Rico’s commercial sector consumes nearly half of the island’s electricity, and the residential sector consumes just above one-third. The industrial sector including agriculture accounts for slightly over one-eighth of power consumption, and the rest of the island’s power is used for public purposes like street lighting. Per capita, Puerto Rico’s electricity consumption is typically less than half of the average in the 50 states.

Puerto Rico has joined twenty four states, committed to the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement.

CURRENT NEWS

PLANS TO ACCELERATE RENEWABLES

Puerto Rico Pledge for Climate Change

04/10/19
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced the Puerto Rico Pledge for Climate Change, a historic initiative that aims to combat climate change and create a more environmentally sustainable island.

KEY RESOURCES

Puerto Rico Territory Profile and Energy Estimates

10/18/21
The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico consists of the easternmost islands of the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, southeast of Florida. Puerto Rico has no proved reserves or production of fossil fuels. The Commonwealth has…

Energy State Bill Tracking Database

09/10/21
The searchable Energy Storage Legislation Database displays information in interactive maps and charts, tracking state activity from 2017 to the present.

Environment and Natural Resources State Bill Tracking Database

09/01/21
The National Conference of State Legislatures tracks environment and natural resources bills that have been introduced in the 50 states, territories and Washington, D.C.

The Impacts of Climate Change and the Trump Administration’s Anti-Environmental Agenda in Puerto Rico

09/19/20
Between 2017 and 2019, Puerto Rico experienced three tropical cyclones. The damages of these events led to losses of at least $1 billion.

SEPA and Puerto Rico

03/05/20
In September, 2017, Puerto Rico’s power grid was devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria. SEPA welcomes the opportunity to help Puerto Rico design a power grid that takes advantage of the latest technologies and business…

Strengthening Puerto Rico’s energy system

02/28/20
Affordable, low-carbon electricity for healthier and more prosperous communities

Revitalize Puerto Rico

02/28/20
Assured Guaranty helps provide funding for public projects such as the construction of hospitals, schools, roads and bridges. We have done this in Puerto Rico and in cities and communities across America. Our goals are…

MORE NEWS

Cornell, Puerto Rican students to connect for food security innovation

By Matt Hayes  Photo: Angela M. Linares Ramirez   11/10/21  
As Puerto Rico continues to build back from hurricanes Irma and Maria amid intensifying climatic changes, a joint project between Cornell and the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPRM) will prepare agricultural students to…

Plagued by Daily Blackouts, Puerto Ricans Are Calling for an Energy Revolution. Will the Biden Administration Listen?

By Kristoffer Tigue  Photo: Carolyn Cole , Getty Images   10/25/21  
When Hurricane Maria swept across Puerto Rico in September 2017, shredding the energy grid and knocking out power for nearly all the island’s 3.4 million residents for months on end, Casa Sol—Ramirez’s five-bedroom bed and…

Nonprofit Barrio Electrico works to expand solar energy in Puerto Rico

By YCC Team  Photo: Barrio Eléctrico video   10/20/21  
When Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought damaging winds to Puerto Rico in 2017, many people struggled to survive without electricity. And even in the absence of a hurricane, the power can be unreliable in rural…

Power Solar Teams Up With Popular Auto

10/07/21  
Faced with the great demand for solar energy in Puerto Rico, Power Solar and Popular Auto teamed up to offer the public the opportunity to acquire their own renewable energy system through various financing options…

Puerto Rico has a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build a clean energy grid – but FEMA plans to spend $9.4 billion on fossil fuel infrastructure instead

By Patrick Parenteau and Rachel Stevans  Photo: Hector Retamal , Getty Images   10/05/21  
The Biden Administration has a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help Puerto Rico transition to a greener and more resilient energy future, but it’s on the verge of making a multibillion-dollar mistake.

Lessons from Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico, four years later | Column

By Elizabeth Aranda   09/24/21  
Today marks four years since Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, leaving in its wake months of misery for those affected by lack of power, access to food and medicine, collapsed homes, and lives changed forever.

Bringing Reliable, Renewable Energy To The People Of Puerto Rico

By Max Lainfiesta, Nathaniel Buescher, & Michael Liebman  Photo: Wei Zeng , Unsplash   09/21/21  
Income inequality is palpable on the streets of the United States in cities and towns alike. On one block you may have neighborhoods with maintained roads and sidewalks, well-funded schools, and easy access to services…

Long Wait for Solar Net Metering Affecting Customers

By Ileanexis Vera Rosado  Photo: Carlos Rivera Giusli   09/15/21  
Over 6,000 cases of residences and small businesses are pending approval for net metering, which prevents them from accessing credits for exporting excess energy to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) network, now operated…

Second wind for Puerto Rico renewable energy plant

09/13/21  
Puerto Rico’s energy regulator NEPR has approved an amendment to an agreement between power utility PREPA and renewable energy operator Punta Lima Wind Farm.

Renewables Are Key to a Just Energy Future for Puerto Rico

By Ruth Santiago and Michael B. Gerrard   07/15/21  
The Biden administration faces a choice that could advance two of its core objectives — fostering environmental justice and fighting climate change. Puerto Rico’s already troubled energy system was devastated by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and a…

Why Puerto Rico Needs Solar for a Green Energy Future

By Keith Rushing  Photo: Alejandro Granadillo , Getty Images   07/01/21  
In 2018, a Puerto Rico tourism campaign set out to “enchant” travelers with a story of the island’s recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Puerto Rico’s natural beauty, from its abundant marine ecosystems to…

HUD Continues Disaster Recovery Efforts for Puerto Rico and USVI

By Eric C. Peck   06/22/21  
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has published a Federal Register notice (Docket No. FR-6261-N-01) governing the use of $2 billion in Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funds for electric…

Reliable Power Pours into Puerto Rican Bottling Plant Thanks to FlexGen Energy Storage System

By Flexgen   06/22/21  
When a global bottling company in Puerto Rico needed long-term reliable, resilient power to keep up with demand and competition, they turned to FlexGen, a leading energy storage software company, and Martin Energy, a distributed generation assets firm. Puerto…

Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands closer to getting $2 billion for electric grid repairs

By Alex Roarty and Syra Ortiz-Blanes   06/22/21  
The federal government will take another step Monday toward releasing nearly $2 billion to repair Puerto Rico’s troubled electrical grid, part of a pool of money withheld from the island for years even as it…

With storm season here, new company running Puerto Rico power grid sees fierce resistance

By Syra Ortiz-Blanes  Photo: Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo , AP   06/17/21  
As a flash storm poured over San Juan on June 1, leaders and members of labor unions huddled under a yellow tent in front of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to denounce LUMA Energy,…

Puerto Rico is Prone to More Flooding Than the Island is Prepared to Handle

Photo: sgt. Jose Ahiram Diaz-Ramos , PRNG-PAO   06/07/21  
Puerto Rico is not ready for another hurricane season, let alone the effects of climate change, according to a new study that shows the island’s outstanding capacity to produce record-breaking floods and trigger a large…

In Puerto Rico, private company takes over power utility service

By Associated Press  Photo: Xavier Garcia , Getty Images   06/02/21  
 A private company on Tuesday took over the transmission and distribution operations of Puerto Rico’s power authority, which has struggled with blackouts and bankruptcy, corruption and mismanagement.

Erosion Threatens Region’s Coastal Communities

By Coraly Cruz Mejias  Photo: Coraly M. Cruz Mejias , GPJ Puerto Rico   05/29/21  
Just below Suhail Vélez’s balcony, the sea breaks on the shore in small, foamy bursts. As night falls in Caguabo, a neighborhood in the western Puerto Rico municipality of Añasco, the surf tempers down.

Puerto Rico extends deadline in renewable energy call for 3,750MW

05/27/21  
Puerto Rico’s energy regulator NEPR has approved an extension request from power utility PREPA to submit proposals for the first tranche of a total package to procure 3,750MW of renewable energy and 1,500MW of storage.

The electrical engineers collide with the climate politicians

By Benjamin Zycher   03/29/21  
Having suffered for decades from natural disasters, perverse federal policies, local mismanagement and much more, the people of Puerto Rico are in need of reforms in many dimensions, prominent among them a modernized, efficient and…

Former Mayor Of San Juan Carmen Yulin Cruz On Leadership And Climate Change

By Joe Donahue  Photo: Sarah Laduke   03/24/21  
Carmen Yulín Cruz served as the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico from 2013-2020. When Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico in 2017, she worked to support the millions of Puerto Ricans who…

Addressing severe climate change impacts in Puerto Rico, other territories while we still can

By Rep. Raul M. Grijalva   03/24/21  
The country has known for years now that U.S. territories and Freely Associated States experience some of the most devastating impacts of climate change even as they contribute the least to the problem, as measured by…

Castañer, Puerto Rico Selected For New Solar Energy Microgrid Project

By Guest Contributor   03/23/21  
The village of Castañer, Puerto Rico has been selected to receive support for a solar energy microgrid project, as part of an initiative led by The Solar Foundation and Pathstone Corp. to strengthen and expand the solar industry in Puerto Rico…

Report outlines rooftop solar and storage for 75% of Puerto Rico’s power, and at a lower cost

By William Driscoll   03/18/21  
Distributed solar and storage should be the focus for $9.6 billion in FEMA funds allocated for Puerto Rico’s grid reconstruction, says a new report based on independent analysis.  

The High Cost of Climate Change After COVID pause, emissions rising again

By Rosario Fajardo  Photo: Josian E. Bruno Gomez   03/17/21  
It is no secret that Puerto Rico’s location in the Caribbean makes the island very vulnerable to the impact of climate change. The Caribbean has long suffered from hurricanes, but today, these severe weather events,…

Puerto Rico Could Energize All Homes Through Renewable Resources by 2035

By Giovanna Garofalo   03/17/21  
Cambio PR Inc., a non-governmental organization committed to promoting sustainability in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, revealed the findings of a study on the potential to achieve renewable energy on the island in the near…

FERC’s expected jurisdiction claim over Puerto Rico LNG terminal could impact PREPA gas plant, renewables plans

By Robert Walton   03/16/21  
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission could decide on Thursday whether it has jurisdiction over a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal that feeds a power plant owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).

Spotlight: climate change law, regulation and policy in Puerto Rico

By Jorge L San Miguel   03/04/21  
Puerto Rico continues to be at an interesting and historic juncture regarding climate change policy and practice. In its current bankrupt status, the island government and its instrumentalities (including public corporations such as PREPA, one…

At a Glance: Luma Energy’s Puerto Rico foray, six months on

01/07/21  
Last June, Puerto Rico’s government selected Luma Energy to operate, maintain and modernize power utility PREPA’s (AEE by its Spanish acronym) transmission and distribution system for 15 years under a public-private partnership.

Earth Today | ‘Climate action now’

01/07/21  
LOCAL PUNDITS have added their voices to the call for bold actions to face down climate change, following news that the world is hurtling towards a more than three degrees rise in temperature by the…

Why We Mustn’t Forget the Effects of Climate Change on Mental Health.

By Jane Palmer   01/05/21  
When Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, it didn’t just flatten houses and flood hospitals – it plunged the island into a darkness that many islanders have yet to emerge from, both literally and metaphorically.

Puerto Rico plan to rebuild power system nears US$12bn

01/04/21  
Required investment to rebuild and transform Puerto Rico’s power sector following damage from hurricanes Irma and María in 2017 reaches some US$11.8bn.

Puerto Rico’s ocean energy development enters next phase

12/30/20  
WSP USA Building is a more than 130-year old company with expertise in engineering large infrastructure projects. Puerto Rico-based Marvel Architects likewise has design experience in such projects.

Puerto Rico selects ocean energy project developer

12/24/20  
Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce has selected WSP USA Building and Marvel Architects for the US$300mn PROTech thermal ocean energy project.

Listen: How Puerto Ricans are rebuilding post-Hurricane María

By The Grist Staff   12/18/20  
In the last episode of Temperature Check (Grist’s podcast on climate, race, and culture) before the new year, host Andrew Simon and returning co-host Justin Worland look back on the biggest climate stories of 2020…

Enernet Global and project partners begin construction on emissions-reducing power plant for Neolpharma in Puerto Rico

12/17/20  
 Enernet Global Inc., a distributed energy service company that provides tailored energy solutions for industrial customers, has funded and begun construction on a combined heat and power (CHP) solution for Neolpharma Inc. PR in Puerto…

Op-Ed: Puerto Rico’s new gov’t must focus on transforming energy sector

By Augustin F. Carbo   12/10/20  
In recent years, we have witnessed how legislation seeks to transform the electricity sector in Puerto Rico. In 2014, the Energy Transformation and RELIEF Act was approved, which for the first time created an independent…

Enel X and Eaton Team Up on Solar and Storage Microgrid in Puerto Rico

By Emma Foehringer Merchant   12/03/20  
Enel X and power equipment and management company Eaton will partner on a solar-storage microgrid in Puerto Rico, one of the largest yet built on an island struggling to restructure its hurricane-battered power grid.

White House authorizes $9.6B to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid, but how can it be spent?

By Robert Walton   09/22/20  
The Trump Administration on Friday announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized $9.6 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico's power infrastructure — three years after the island's electric grid was destroyed by Hurricane Maria.

Trump Declares He Is Now ‘the Best Thing That Ever Happened’ to Puerto Rico

By Peter Baker and Patricia Mazzei  Photo by Doug Mills   09/18/20  
Three years later, after repeated Twitter outbursts, angry recriminations, blocked aid and a paper towel-throwing visit that went over badly, Mr. Trump sought on Friday to present himself as a friend of Puerto Rico, announcing…

White House announces $9B for Puerto Rico grid

By Miranda Willson   09/18/20  
Three years after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, the Trump administration announced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency will allocate more than $9 billion to help rebuild the island's electric grid system and educational…

A light at the end of the political tunnel for Puerto Rico

09/13/20  
Puerto Rico’s status has been fraught for far too long. A new bill in Congress could be the first step toward decolonizing the island.

Amid natural disasters, Puerto Rico places hope on privatization to save electrical system

By Laura Freeland   09/02/20  
A series of natural disasters have devastated Puerto Rico’s electrical system, leaving the territory with unreliable and fragile power. Hurricane Maria in September 2017 had incredibly damaging effects on the people and infrastructure of Puerto…

Puerto Rico Firm Offers Sustainability Certifications for Businesses

By Giovanna Garofalo   09/02/20  
Puerto Rico-based CTI Consulting Group recently formed an alliance with SIP Group, an innovation and sustainability consulting firm in the Dominican Republic, to develop a strategy for local companies to obtain a sustainability certification.

Natural Gas Plans in PREPA’s Integrated Resources Plan Lambasted

09/01/20  
The environmental organizations that make up the Renewable Energy Now Alliance (AERA) criticized the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau for approving an Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for the Electric Power Authority (PREPA) focused on privatization, the…

Climate change may make extreme hurricane rainfall 5 times more likely in the Caribbean, study suggests

By Stephanie Weaver   09/01/20  
In August, Hurricane Laura battered the Caribbean before making landfall on the Gulf Coast. In 2017, Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 Hurricane, brought as much as a quarter of normal annual rainfall to some regions…

Severe storms are increasingly leaving us without power. Microgrids can help.

By Greta Moran  Photo by Jason Blackeye   08/31/20  
As climate change spurs worsening hurricanes, renewable microgrids have the potential to generate and redistribute power.

Puerto Rico Regulators Want IRP To Include More Renewables, VPPs, and Mini Grids

By Steve Hanley   08/29/20  
Puerto Rico’s utility system was virtually wiped out after Hurricane Maria devastated the island three years ago. Some utility customers were without electricity for almost a year. The reasons for the disaster that befell Puerto…

Puerto Rico regulators set island on a 5-year course to procure renewables, storage

By Robert Walton   08/26/20  
https://www.utilitydive.com/news/puerto-rico-regulators-set-island-on-a-5-year-course-to-procure-renewables/584132/

Puerto Rico regulators push PREPA to embrace renewable energy

By Andrew Coen   08/26/20  
The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority would save around $600 million by using renewable energy, according to a regulatory proposal suggesting the switch from the utility’s preferred plan focusing on natural gas.