Senate Bill 1121 was approved Monday by Puerto Rico’s Legislature with bi-partisan support; it now heads to the Governor’s desk for signature
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico - The Solar and Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico (SESA-PR) applauds Puerto Rico's legislature for giving final approval today to Senate Bill 1121 (SB 1121), the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, which will set the Island on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050. Once signed by Governor Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico will join Hawai'i and California in establishing a transition to 100 percent renewable energy.
"Policymakers have listened to the solar and storage industry leaders' input every step of the way while developing this historic legislation," said PJ Wilson, President of SESA-PR. "SB 1121 eliminates many of the barriers that have frustrated solar deployment at all levels for years and creates a clear vision for ramping up clean energy, but actually implementing the law will require strong continued collaboration as Puerto Rico's power grid transforms from 97% imported fossil fuel dependence to 100% local clean energy."
SB 1121 establishes a 100 percent renewable energy renewable portfolio standard (RPS) by 2050, bans coal plants starting in 2028, provides for automatic interconnection to the grid of customer-sited solar energy systems below 25 kilowatts, and reduces the utility approval time to 90 days for commercial and industrial solar projects. It also creates a 5-year window of full compensation for consumers' solar energy production, and streamlined permitting for utility-scale projects. SESA-PR applauds the bill's provisions as effective mechanisms to facilitate Puerto Rico's achievement of the first target of 40 percent renewable energy by 2024.
"Current utility scale solar projects are well positioned to jumpstart the objectives of this legislation. If policy makers push them forward, Puerto Rico can quickly show the world that the implementation of renewable energy on the island is for real," said Adrian Stella, managing member of Renewable Energy Authority, LLC.
Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló has expressed his strong support for 100 percent renewable energy as part of his post-Hurricane María recovery vision and plan. The changes are intended to create a more resilient island built upon state of the art technology that transcends the diesel and coal-fired centralized generation electricity model, towards a clean, more decentralized energy system with local, renewable resources at its center.
"This is the most forward thinking piece of legislation we have ever seen in the industry and it shows the commitment of the government towards renewables," said Alejandro Uriarte, CEO of New Energy.
Following hurricanes Irma and María in 2017, Puerto Rico's diverse and sophisticated energy stakeholders from the private sector, civil society and government engaged in serious dialogue to arrive at concrete, consensual proposals for Puerto Rico's energy future. Puerto Rico's Senate drafted the new bi-partisan energy law (Senate Bill 1121) under the leadership of Senate Vice President Larry Seilhamer (NPP) and Senator Eduardo Bhatia (PDP), with strong support from both the Senate and House. John Berger, CEO of Sunnova, said "We are thrilled that cleaner, more affordable energy options are now going to become mainstream with the passage of a 100% renewable energy standard. Puerto Rico's leaders are showing that they are determined not to allow the island to ever be without power again for months at a time. It's clear that the island will be building a stronger, more reliable and resilient energy system powered by resources like the sun that are abundant in Puerto Rico."
"Today is a win for all Puerto Ricans," said Lynn Jurich, CEO and co-founder of Sunrun, the nation's leading residential solar and energy services company. "Leaders like Governor Rosselló have embraced clean energy technology like home solar and batteries ever since the deadly hurricanes in 2017 devastated the island and its entire electricity grid. This critical legislation will create local jobs, grow the economy, and enable even more Puerto Ricans to have access to clean, resilient, reliable energy for their homes."
"We congratulate Puerto Rico's legislature for passing this historic bill," said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "Utility scale and distributed solar energy will create jobs, fuel the economy and provide much needed security and reliability to Puerto Rico's power system. And that in turn will reduce dependence on old infrastructure and fuels that must be transported from overseas."
Additionally, SB 1121 bill establishes that solar energy users will have access to NEM within one month of a system's installation, clarifies that the existing NEM policy shall be in place for no less than five years, and that new solar consumers will be grandfathered and protected from future policy changes for the next 20 years.
SB 1121 is showcasing the right way to build RPS standards, by clarifying that all scales of renewable energy production, including home solar energy, will count for Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for RPS compliance. The bill also exempts solar electric storage equipment from sales taxes and grants the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau more fiscal autonomy and powers to perform performance-based metrics, among many other innovations.
SESA-PR's mission is to represent companies dedicated to the transformation of Puerto Rico's power grid into a consumer-focused, solar and storage based network. Current board of directors includes local solar installation companies New Energy, Maximo Solar, Pura Energia and Windmar Home, battery manufacturers Tabuchi and Sonnen, and residential financing companies Sunnova and Sunrun. Visit www.sesapr.org.
Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.