It’s official: Puerto Rico’s beleaguered, bankrupt, and possibly corrupt power utility is being privatized. The U.S. territory was battered by Hurricane Maria nine months ago, and many homes remain without power amid a deeply flawed recovery effort.
Puerto Rico gets an enormous percentage of its electricity from fossil fuels. In 2016, the territory pulled just 2 percent of its power from renewables and a whopping 98 percent from fossil fuels. These fuels have to be imported, since Puerto Rico has no on-island sources for coal, petroleum, or natural gas, which raises their cost considerably.
It seems like the perfect opportunity to rebuild with cleaner sources of power. And after the storm, communities and companies stepped in with solar arrays and even a solar microgrid. So, what does privatization mean for the territory’s burgeoning installments of solar energy?
Selling the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) could be beneficial for solar, says Masaō Ashtine, who researches energy systems in the Caribbean. The change “will give more power to the industry to plan for renewable energy,” Ashtine says. Privatization could remove the red tape associated with public utility companies, he argues, and thus streamline the energy delivery process. [click for full article]