Puerto Rico’s sole electric utility provider, Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), has chosen Sunrun as the installation company and battery provider for the island’s first virtual power plant (VPP). The 17-MW VPP will network together more than 7,000 Sunrun solar + storage systems installed on homes.
“Puerto Ricans are ready to make the move to reliable independent clean energy solutions that will increase their sense of safety and security in their own homes,” said Sunrun CEO Mary Powell. “We’re solving energy insecurity on the island by switching the model so that solar energy is generated on rooftops and stored in batteries to power each home, and then shared with neighbors, creating a clean shared energy economy. That way, residents not only have control over their energy at home, but can also share power with their community and be compensated for it.”
Sunrun will spend the next year enrolling customers into the program and begin networked dispatches in 2024. Customers will benefit from the cost savings of on-site energy generation and backup power and will also be compensated in exchange for strategically sharing their stored energy with Puerto Rico’s power grid, creating a shared clean energy economy. Batteries enrolled in the VPP will continue maintaining adequate backup reserves to power through potential grid outages at participants’ homes. All customers with batteries are also eligible to enroll and can opt out at any point during the 10-year program.
In 2019, two years after Hurricane Maria dismantled the island’s electric grid, the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act was passed by the Legislature to set the parameters for a forward-looking energy system that maximizes distributed generation. The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) determined that VPPs were key to achieving the legislation’s goals of building a resilient and robust energy system and meeting Puerto Rico’s renewable portfolio standards.
Coupled with increasing utility rates — some of the highest in the United States — and reliance on the old, poorly maintained fossil fuel power plants, Puerto Rico has seen a transformational shift away from an unreliable energy system, with tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans now with rooftop solar and batteries. Earlier this fall, Hurricane Fiona knocked out the island’s power grid, leaving more than three million residents in the dark. Sunrun customers on the island were able to power through the extended outages. Sunrun solar + battery systems provided more than 350,000 hours of backup power to thousands of homes.
“My solar and battery system kept my lights on and my family safe during Hurricane Fiona,” said Hector Jimenez, a Sunrun customer in San Juan. “My neighbors relied on diesel to run their generators and started to worry when fuel supply began to run low. I was able to help them out by charging up portable batteries and lending them to people in the community who needed electricity.”
“Because of the solar battery system we installed on the roof of our station after Hurricane Maria, our communications systems were powered all night and day during Fiona, enabling us to respond to emergency calls,” said former San Juan Metro Fire Station Lt. Francisco Cruz.
The Governing Board of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority approved the terms of the agreement on October 26, 2022, and the agreement is subject to regulatory sign-off by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau and the Fiscal Oversight Management Board.
News item from Sunrun