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Fiddler González & Rodríguez, P.S.C., P.O. Box 363507, San Juan, PR 00936-3507. Our fax (787) 759-3108.
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Eduardo Negrón Navas
Juan Carlos Gómez Escarce
María L. González Hernández
Pedro J. Reyes Bibiloni
On May 14, 2013, the Governor of Puerto Rico signed three executive orders related to energy projects in Puerto Rico. The orders establish a return to the ordinary process to evaluate renewable energy projects permit applications, and create the Electric Reliability Council (ERC) and the Puerto Rico Energy Autonomy Council (PREAC).
Order 2013-038 provides that permit, consultation and certification applications filed on or before December 31, 2012, under the process provided by Law 76-2000 and the enabling executive orders, be evaluated under the ordinary process. Applications pending before the Environmental Quality Board will be transferred to the Permits Management Office (OGPe by its acronym in Spanish). It also provides that the agencies shall address these applications with priority, while assuring that all renewable and alternate energy projects are compatible with the protection of agricultural land and natural sensitive areas. The integration of these projects to the electric grid shall be safe and promote a sustainable economy.
Order 2013-039 creates the ERC to address and evaluate those matters that require actions to ensure the reliability and security of the Puerto Rico electric system. The ERC will be formed by the Chairman of the Planning Board, the Executive Director of the Energy Affairs Administration (EAA), the Energy Affairs Advisor to the Governor, and two citizens appointed by the Governor. The tasks given to the ERC include: (1) evaluate the renewable energy projects with contracts signed between 2009 and 2012, to determine their impact on the reliability and security of the Puerto Rico electric system; (2) advise the Governor on the measures necessary to address potential impact to the electric reliability; (3) evaluate the reliability analysis presented by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), as it relates to an extension to the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS) compliance dates; (4) submit recommendations to the Governor on the creation of a permanent ERC; and (5) initiate the appropriate analyses using data provided by PREPA to comply with the Order.
The ERC should issue its first report within forty-five days of initiating its works, which should include a work plan and a diagnosis of the status of the renewable projects integration, and an initial characterization of the PREPA generating units. The tasks related to the integration of renewable energy projects and the critical reliability units characterizations shall be finished within three months. The analysis and recommendation of a permanent ERC should be finished within a year. Finally, the ERC should hold at least one meeting open to the public to discuss concerns and suggestions regarding Puerto Rico electric reliability.
Order 2013-040 creates the PREAC to address and evaluate those matters that require actions to ensure sustainable strategies and practices for Puerto Rico in the direction of energetic autonomy. The AEC will be formed by the Energy Affairs Advisor to the Governor, the Chairman of the Planning Board, the Secretaries of the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources and the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Executive Directors of PREPA and the EAA, and three citizens appointed by the Governor. The AEC tasks include receiving, evaluating and submitting recommendations to the Governor for the development of a new energy policy, considering technical, environmental, social and economic aspects, that allows and makes feasible the development of sustainable energy resources and practices. These will be handled through committees in the areas of energy conservation and efficiency, support to the local energy industry, sustainable transportation alternatives, fuels and PREPA reform.
Also, the AEC will have to develop strategies that promote interagency collaboration, develop metrics, revise the current impact of energy policies, create a citizens consultation process, recommend decentralized, participative and sustainable energy models, and study alternatives and submit PREPA reform alternatives to the Governor, among others. The AEC should submit its first report within 45 days, and subsequent progress reports every four months. The recommendations should be submitted not later than six months for the PREPA reform; nine months for the support of the local energy industry; twelve months for energy conservation and efficiency; fifteen months in the area of transportation; and fuel alternatives eighteen months. In addition, the AEC shall hold a meeting open to the public or request written comments.
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