In an Amicus Brief filed today in federal court, the Solar Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico (SESA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) urged United States District Judge Laura Taylor Swain to reject the proposed Restructuring Support Agreement (RSA) for Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)’s over $8 billion in outstanding debt.
The RSA would impose unfair charges upon customers who use solar energy, in open violation of Puerto Rico’s Act 17-2019. In particular, the RSA would:
- Impose an unwarranted and discriminatory fixed charge to solar customers starting in 2020 through 2067, raising solar ownership costs up to 50% for solar-only systems and 25% for solar-plus-storage systems.
- Shorten the term that customers would be able to fully benefit from net metering for their solar energy generation.
- Impose additional costs upon solar energy customers, by requiring a separate meter measuring output from each customer’s solar production.
If enacted, the RSA would directly undermine Puerto Rico’s new clean energy policy, signed into law only six months ago, which requires PREPA to expand renewable energy usage from 4% today to 20% by 2022 and to 40% by 2025. This comes in the face of remaining challenges to the electricity grid and Puerto Rico’s overall development, which were exacerbated by Hurricanes Maria and Irma.
“The proposed settlement would be a blow to the budding solar industry in Puerto Rico and goes against everything we’ve been working to build,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Solar and storage can greatly improve Puerto Rico’s resilience and any restructuring plan that doesn’t consider the island’s long-term clean energy needs is shortsighted. Moreover, the filed plan contradicts Puerto Rico’s new energy policy statute. We urge Judge Swain to carefully consider the plan’s impacts.”
“We’re working tirelessly to implement Law 17, which requires the quickest transition to renewable energy ever attempted,” said PJ Wilson, president of SESA. “Investors are ready to cover our rooftops with solar, but the solar charges proposed in this RSA would cause them to reconsider whether Puerto Rico is really committed or not.”
The RSA was agreed by Puerto Rico’s Financial Oversight and Management Board, Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish acronym) and PREPA’s bondholders earlier this year, and was submitted to Judge Swain in May 2019.
The Amicus Brief encourages Judge Swain to uphold Act 17, including its commitment to a 100% renewable energy goal by 2050. It also recommends that any rate changes be left to Puerto Rico’s Energy Bureau, in accordance with Puerto Rico’s law.
News item from SEIA