Puerto Rico currently relies on oil to generate 68 percent of its power needs, and power costs on the island are currently twice as much as on the U.S. mainland. Realizing this, Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno recently announced projects designed to reduce the island’s dependence on imported oil. This month he announced both new solar and wind power projects, both of which will be the largest of its type in the Caribbean.
Earlier this month, Gov. Fortuno unveiled a $98 million 24 megawatt photovoltaic (PV) solar energy project consisting of about 100,000 solar panels generating enough electricity to provide power to about 6,500 houses. Construction will be completed around the middle of 2012, and consumers are expected to see a 40% drop in their electric bills. The project, which is being build by AES Illumina (a division of AES Solar), is being financed by private investors. All power will be sold to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority under a 20 year power purchase agreement.
And this week, Gov. Fortuno added to Puerto Rico’s alternative energy push by announcing the building of the Finca de Viento Santa Isabel wind farm. Pattern Energy Group LP will be constructing the 44 wind turbine project – financing is being handled by Siemens AG. Construction will begin this month and is expected to be completed by September 2012. When complete, the new windmills will generate up to 75 megawatt hours of electricity, enough to power about 25,000 houses.
Last year, Puerto Rico’s signed it’s first Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (RPS) act into law. The law calls for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to provide 15% of retail electricity from renewable sources by 2020, and 20% by 2035.