Three key federal lawmakers wrote to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), calling for the utility to incorporate renewable energy sources as the beleaguered Island’s energy production and distribution systems are modernized.
The letter, written by Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY); Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee (D-AZ); and Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, comes as talks are underway regarding the utility’s future and privatization efforts.
Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, many of the Commonwealth’s 3.3 million residents endured the longest blackout in U.S. history. In their letter, the Members of Congress note that the Island’s longstanding fossil fuel dependence has strained Puerto Rico financially, while engendering health problems among those who live there. Moreover, the letter notes, Puerto Rico’s year-round tropical climate makes it an excellent candidate for greater employment of renewable energy.
The letter states, “An improved grid and structure of utility operations must emphasize efficiency and be flexible enough to accommodate increasing use of both utility-scale renewable power generation and distributed renewable energy resources to allow consumers to generate their own electricity and sell surplus power back to the grid… It is our moral responsibility to protect families from the destruction of their natural resources and steer them into a strong economy and resilient, clean future. Instead of chaining the people of Puerto Rico to yesterday’s energy sources, PREPA must actively implement improvements and enhancements for Puerto Rico’s electric system in order to effectively strengthen and modernize Puerto Rico’s electric grid to withstand storms of the future.”
Text of the letter: a .pdf is online here.