EIA has added existing, retired, and proposed power plants in Puerto Rico to its Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. This EIA report includes generating units at power plants with a combined nameplate capacity of one megawatt (MW) or greater.
Some of the oldest power plants operating in Puerto Rico are hydroelectric plants, almost all of which were built before 1960. All of the power plants built in Puerto Rico from 1960 through 2009 that are still operating are powered by fossil fuels, mainly petroleum. The territory’s first natural gas plant came online in 1972, and the first (and only) coal plant came online in 2001.
All new electricity generating capacity added in Puerto Rico since 2009 is powered by renewable energy technologies including solar photovoltaic, onshore wind, and landfill gas. A relatively small number of utility-scale batteries were added in 2015 and 2016.
Puerto Rico went through an extended period when no new capacity was added. After several petroleum-powered plants, including Puerto Rico’s largest power plant, Aguirre, were built in the late 1970s, no new generators were added until the late 1990s. Another span without capacity additions came in the mid-to-late-2000s. No new plants came online in 2017, but a few solar photovoltaic and landfill gas plants with a combined capacity of 32.4 MW are expected to come online in 2018, based on information reported to EIA.
Much of Puerto Rico’s electricity infrastructure was damaged during hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017. More than 99% of the hydro and fossil-fueled (petroleum, natural gas, and coal) power capacity in Puerto Rico reported their status as operating as of April 2018. However, more than 100 plants reported that they were not operating as of April 2018, but they are expected to return to service within the calendar year, including most onshore wind plants (76% of wind capacity), some solar photovoltaic plants (32% of solar capacity), and one battery facility (12% of battery capacity). One wind and one solar plant reported that they were out of service and not expected to return within the calendar year.
Nearly 80% of Puerto Rico’s electricity generating capacity is currently owned by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which filed for bankruptcy in July 2017, months before hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall. In January 2018, Puerto Rico’s governor announced that all PREPA assets would be privatized.
Principal contributor: Owen Comstock