Republicans Attack Puerto Rico’s Plan To Go one hundred percent Eco-friendlyBy Blair Morris
September 23, 2019
Republicans on Tuesday pilloried Puerto Rico‘s plan to stop burning imported nonrenewable fuel sources to create electrical energy, calling the proposal senseless and opening a brand-new front in a significantly bitter partisan battle over the storm-ravaged island’s battle to recuperate.
At a House Natural Resources Committee hearing, GOP lawmakers dismissed the Puerto Rican legislature’s vote last month to approve an enthusiastic expense mandating 100%sustainable power by 2050 as “political interference” and accused the territory’s legislators of wasting a chance to reap the spoils of the American fracking boom.
” It’s just unrealistic,” Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said. “Yet there’s still legislation.”
The nine-term congressman, who’s got more from the oil and gas industry than any other donor considering that taking office, last month ended up being the primary villain of Democrats’ Green New Deal resolution, which outlines the first climate proposal scientists say is on the scale of what’s needed to fight the worldwide warming crisis. Bishop incorrectly declared the Green New Deal banned hamburgers, and performatively gobbled one at a news conference. Later on, he recommended the Green New Deal amounted “ genocide“
Yet, on Tuesday, he blamed Puerto Rico lawmakers for playing politics with the state-owned Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
” PREPA has actually been hamstrung by political needs,” he said. “One of the issues of PREPA in the past is political interference when your primary goal is [to] supply abundant and inexpensive energy.”
A minimum of 13 states have actually passed or are considering strategies that set 100%clean-electricity targets, according to a report last month by the consultancy EQ Research. But Puerto Rico’s scenario is distinct. In September 2017, cyclones Irma and Maria shredded the island’s aging electrical grid, leaving millions without power in the second-longest blackout in world history.
Puerto Rico imports oil and gas for more than 80%of its electricity needs, saddling ratepayers with prices approximately two times the American average and a hazardous legacy of pollution. Renewables comprised just 2% of the electrical power mix as of two years back.
To some, the catastrophe, extensively seen as a glance of what’s to come as environment modification worsens, presented a chance to gear up Puerto Rico to harvest its abundant sun and wind for power. But Republicans instead proposed a shock-doctrine approach that assured to make Puerto Rico a trustworthy market for U.S.-produced gas and oil.
At a November 2017 hearing before the same committee, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) asked at the time “which ecological policy waivers” were required to jump-start efforts to import more natural gas to Puerto Rico. Last July, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) wondered why anybody would consider wind and solar beneficial options for Puerto Rico at all.
He doubled down on those queries on Tuesday.
” They’re intermittent,” McClintock stated. “They need trustworthy generators that are performing at ready status so that if a cloud passes over or the wind drops off, they can immediately begin.”
It’s an argument President Donald Trump regularly releases, albeit in less advanced terms, to deride renewables. But renewables are usually coupled with battery systems that keep excess solar or wind power for use when the sky is dark or the air is still. Solar panels matched with batteries provided oases of electrical energy during Puerto Rico’s monthslong blackout. Indeed, the 100%renewables expense exempts energy storage systems from sales tax and removes guidelines that disallowed Puerto Ricans from installing battery systems without approval from PREPA.
Yet batteries hardly came up at the hearing, other than when one legislator mentioned that the innovation can be pricey.
The hearing came in the middle of a restored battle over Puerto Rican catastrophe relief. Trump consistently threatened to cut funding to the battered island, which is still having a hard time to restore as federal aid trickles in gradually. Recently, the president falsely declared Puerto Rico got $91 billion in relief. In truth, of the $41 billion approved to aid Puerto Rico, just about $11 billion has flowed from federal coffers. Another $50 billion is expected to be delivered, but over a period The Associated Press stated “might span years.”
The existing plan to concentrate on natural gas rather of maximizing and doing promotion around solar generation will lock us into a facilities that will quickly be dated.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
The Senate stopped working last week to advance 2 different help costs as Democrats demanded extra financing for Puerto Rico to which Republican politician leaders stated Trump would never ever agree. Negotiations broke down Tuesday as Congress headed for a two-week recess.
Disaster funding hasn’t stopped the natural gas market’s progress. Last July, the Department of Energy proposed reducing shipping guidelines for liquefied gas. By reclassifying tankers as “small scale,” the ships could circumvent more robust federal ecological reviews, according to a report by the watchdog site The Genuine News
” The completion of this guideline will expedite the allowing of particular small-scale exports of gas,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated in a news release at the time. “The so-called ‘small-scale guideline’ will further release American energy by reducing the regulatory burden on American services while also offering significant benefits to our trading partners in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.”
There have actually been missteps. In December, Texas-based Excelerate Energy deserted strategies to construct a $400 million natural gas terminal on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.
But last month, New York-based New Fortress Energy signed a five-year handle PREPA to supply gas to the energy’s power plant in San Juan. On Tuesday morning, the U.S. Energy Details Administration released its most current figures showing Puerto Rico’s melted natural gas imports bounced back to pre-storm levels as of late2018
Energy Department electrical energy chief Bruce Walker, a Trump appointee, testified Tuesday that attempting to rebuild Puerto Rico with non-fossil sources after the storm would have slowed the recovery.
” There are some substantial engineering issues,” he said. “It’s not technically possible today to transform that island to 100?o-friendly.”
PREPA CEO José Ortiz Vázquez agreed but stated the debate was over how heavily to purchase imported gas to carry the island through to its ultimate goal of 100%clean electricity.
” Some groups favor going straight up with maximum capacity of renewables and keep burning gas to get us through to 2050, while other groups have a different viewpoint, where we ought to make a big bet now on natural gas and slowly deal with the sustainable problem,” he said.
Asked for how long it would take to transform Puerto Rico’s entire electrical energy supply, a panel of experts in the 2nd half of the hearing offered answers varying from “within a decade” to 25 years to “well before the 2050 deadline,” if executed “under a well-managed, professional system.”
There is a genuine disagreement over the feasibility of going 100?o-friendly on the national level. A paper released in 2017 in Procedures of the National Academy of Sciences argued a much better strategy was to intend for 80%renewables by the middle of the century, with nuclear plants and fossil fuel stations geared up with carbon capture and storage innovation making up the rest. However research studies launched in 2015 made the case that the quick strides in clean energy made it useful and economically sound to entirely shift all 50 states and 139 nations to 100?o-friendly starting immediately.
Yet earnings are at the heart of Puerto Rico’s conflict. Last year, the Puerto Rican legislature approved a strategy to privatize PREPA. It’s a questionable decision that some state will assist the bankrupt energy to dig itself out of financial obligation and make the improvements it needs to lower electrical power costs. However others fear a PREPA beholden to investors will lock in high rates and transfer control of a public excellent into the hands of the rich, establishing yet another way the downtrodden U.S. colony creates wealth for those back on the mainland.
” It’s not possible for PREPA to right away convert to 100%renewable resource. There will be a shift duration. We recognize that,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who commanded Tuesday’s hearing as committee chairman. “However there are issues that the existing plan to concentrate on natural gas instead of optimizing and doing promo around solar generation will lock us into a facilities that will soon be dated, a facilities that will depend on importation. Am I remedy?”
Marla Pérez Lugo, a teacher at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, said the question captured “the essence of the issue.”
” We’re still thinking that what’s good for PREPA is excellent for Puerto Rico,” she stated. “And that is not always so.”