Elisa Wood, Microgrid Knowledge
After two years of debate and planning, Puerto Rico finally appears positioned to re-create its electric grid with microgrids and renewable energy, mandated in a new utility integrated resource plan (IRP).
The mandate came from the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau, the island’s chief energy regulator, in late August. Utility IRPs are guiding documents produced by US utilities to determine the least-cost way to manage gaps between existing resources and future needs. PREPA has been working on this version of its IRP since March 2018.
Microgrids became a big part of island reconstruction after its entire grid failed from the onslaught of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. But much of the microgrid development has been piecemeal, done by private, federal or non-profit sources to help schools, hospitals, businesses and remote communities.
Now, however, the bureau has ruled that microgrids must be a central part of the grid planning by the island’s utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA).
The bureau ordered PREPA to “directly incorporate promotion of microgrid resources into all of its transmission, distribution, and resource planning,” noting that microgrids “form a critical part of the resiliency solutions envisioned” for Puerto Rico.