Update: Federal judge approves $300M loan to Puerto Rico's utility
The post has been updated to include the news that the federal judge has approved a $300 million loan for PREPA.
- A federal judge has approved a loan requested by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, days after the judge rejected the proposed loan of $550 million from the central government of Puerto Rico to its electric utility.
- The loan totals to $300 million, well below the initial $550 million requested. Puerto Rico's governor has said the utility needs at least $1 billion to keep operating.
- Puerto Rico is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria, which destroyed the island's electric grid last year. It has been five months since the storm struck, but almost a quarter of the island's residents remain without power.
PREPA's torturous recovery from Maria has brought the lights back on for 75% of residents and by the end of next month almost all are expected back online. But that recovery is being threatened by the utility's financial situation and a possibility it may not be able to afford fuel, the Journal reported.
At the time the judge rejected the loan, PREPA's CFO said that without additional funds by next Thursday, the island could face more blackouts. A group of bondholders has reportedly offered a loan of $534 million. PREPA is $9 billion in debt, and Puerto Rico is stuck to the tune of $73 billion.
In addition to the work being done to rebuild the island's transmission and distribution system (generation was largely undamaged), private companies have also been stepping in with small off-grid solutions.
As Bloomberg puts it, the SU Matrullas school, located in the remote town of Orocovis, "has given up on the island's utility."
Sonnen on Friday announced it has developed a solar+battery storage microgrid at the school, working with Puerto Rico's Pura Energía, powering the school entirely with on-site generation. The company donated two smart energy storage systems, one 4kW/8kWh and the other 8kW/14kWh, paired with a 15 kW rooftop solar system provided by Puera.
The microgrid replaces the gas-fueled generator the school had been using, with clean and quiet solar power.
The rebuilding and re-envisioning of Puerto Rico's electric grid will ultimately create a cleaner and more resilient grid, with far more modern technologies brought to bear. According to Sonnen, the school is done with PREPA —even if they restore power.
The school "currently does not plan to reconnect with [PREPA], even once power is restored to the area," Sonnen said in a statement. The school will also soon be using an on-site water capture and filtration system.
- The Wall Street Journal Federal Judge Rejects Government Loan for Puerto Rico Utility
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