Puerto Rico: Future global template for microgrids?


The Puerto Rico Energy Commission has unveiled 29 pages of proposed regulations to provide a framework for future installation of microgrids on the island.

The move comes after Hurricane Maria left the island and its outdated energy infrastructure in a shambles and the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) $9 billion in debt. Puerto Rico’s current generation averages 72.6% however, about half the island’s residents are still without power.

The US federal board is attempting to fast-track four projects worth $1.47 billion to speed up the islands’ recovery.

The proposed regulations aim to provide a clear definition of the term “microgrid” and ownership models.

According to Jared Leader, senior associate at the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), this set of definitions is comprehensive enough to assist other national commissions exploring microgrid solutions.

The regulations are open to public comment for a period of 30 days. These comments will be used to create a tailored and well defined regulatory framework necessary for the development of microgrid solutions.

José Román Morales, president of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, said: “There’s not a standard definition of what a microgrid is, not even on the mainland. A microgrid shall consist, at a minimum, of generation assets, loads and distribution infrastructure. Microgrids shall include sufficient generation, storage assets and advanced distribution technologies to serve load under normal operating and usage conditions.Furthermore, all microgrids must be renewable or hybrid CHP-and-renewable systems.”

The microgrids will be connected with PREPA’s energy network to ensure stability on the main grid.

The finalisation of the microgrid framework will be followed by the development of a new Integrated Resource Plan, which PREPA has to file by July.

According to Julia Hamm, CEO of the Smart Electric Power Alliance, “Certainly over the past three months, it has been a bit of a challenge to ensure that everybody has been coordinating efforts. Just over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen some good progress on that front. We’re starting to see a lot more communication,” she said, adding that an air of optimism has settled on the process.

“The key stakeholders all have a very common vision for Puerto Rico when it comes to the power sector.”