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They developed Puerto Rico's first virtual power plant

They developed Puerto Rico’s first virtual power plant

The Board of Directors of the Electric Power Authority (AEE) chose the American company turn on the sun To develop Puerto Rico’s first Virtual Power Plant (VPP), a project that, according to its proponents, would contribute to the reduction of both Blackouts Like the electric bill.

VPP is a collection of solar systems and backup batteries that are connected and controlled remotely through software and digital communications networks. In this case, some 7,000 homes with systems already installed would constitute a VPPwhich will also be a first in the Caribbean and Latin America.

will have Generating capacity of 17 megawattsWhich “would (energize) many homes,” he said The new day Chairman of the Board of Directors of AEE Fernando Gil Encinat.

“To give you an idea, Plaza Las Américas uses 5 megawatts, so this plant can power three equally large shopping centers. General household consumption in Puerto Rico is estimated at 500 kilowatts.” The plant will liven up many homesbut not the entire generation.

“It’s a pilot project, and it will give us the metrics on how to do it better. After the network is modernized (with federal funds approved after the passage of Hurricane Maria in 2017), more components like this could be combined.”

How will it work?

Gil Encinat highlighted that Sunrun has been present in Puerto Rico for “many years” as a financier and operator of solar and battery systems, and therefore the 7,000 homes that would make up a VPP would leave its customer network.

with these subscribers, The company will reach agreements for “selected unit offload”, i.e. inject generation into the system for use during peak hours (high demand) or “when available” by the power control centerwhich is powered by Luma Energy. Clients will receive financial compensation and can cancel their participation at any time during the project’s 10-year life.

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He explained that unlike the current net metering program, where customers “contribute to the network according to what is left or capacity to absorb energy”, with VPP. There will be a “send obligation”that is, it will not be discretionary.

In order for the transmission to go quickly and correctly, Sunrun will have to install “some systems” (sensors, software, etc.), as well as conduct studies on the areas with the highest number of homes with solar panels and batteries. According to Gil Ensenat, the 7,000 homes in the pilot project are best located in the same area or nearby and “areas where the connection points are strong.”

Negotiations continue

Although the PREPA Board of Directors chose Sunrun, on October 26, as the governing body of the public corporation and the company And they continue the “negotiations” with the aim of signing an agreement Power Purchase and Operation (PPOA, in English), Jill Ensign stated.

For now, the talks focus on the kilowatt-hour (kWh) cost. Gilles Ensign did not provide a number, but confirmed that it would be “very attractive” and “similar” to existing PV farms. The Law 17 of 2019requiring 100% renewable generation in 2050, set an electricity rate of 20 cents per kWh as an aspiration, but the current cost is $27.59.

The PPOA must also have been approved by Puerto Rico Office of Energy and the Financial oversight board.

“I hope that by the first quarter of next year, everything will be finalized in terms of licensing. He estimated that the subsequent adjustments and arrangements will take, more or less, a year, after which the customers will be integrated and the virtual plant will be put into operation.”

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“It would help reduce the cost.”

According to Gil Ensign, in addition to the “additional (economic)” incentive for customers and “cleaner” energy generation, the vice president “It would help reduce the cost” of the electric bill Because LUMA, as the operator of the Energy Control Center, is obliged to send the cheapest production first.

“This is what has been decided in order of preference,” he said, when saying that as part of the so-called “first tranche” of renewable energy projects, the Eeeee It received three proposals for virtual plants, and finally, Sunrun was chosen “because it provided the best download numbers and prices, as well as being a reputable company”.

San Francisco, California-based Sonron said in a statement that VPP will contribute “to a cleaner energy future,” while It would provide “important benefits”, such as stability of the local network, and mitigation of the “risk of blackouts”. and reduce air pollution from units that burn fossil fuels.

“Puerto Ricans are ready to transition to reliable, independent clean energy solutions that will increase their sense of security in their homes,” said Mary Powell, CEO of Sonron.