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United States: Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla Signs Three Executive Orders Designed To Jump-Start Stalled Renewable Energy Projects

On May 14, 2013, Governor Garcia Padilla issued three Executive Orders (“EO”) designed to establish an orderly plan for the gradual implementation of renewable energy sources to reduce the Island’s dependence on fossil fuels and to set forth parameters for establishing new public policy for the responsible use of alternative energy in Puerto Rico.

The first EO, OE-2013-038, applies to all permit applications, consultations or certifications of renewable energy projects (“REP”) filed on or before December 31, 2012. The order directs agencies responsible for evaluating these REP applications to do so on a “priority basis” while ensuring that advancing the development of these REPs is “not inconsistent with the obligation to protect agricultural and sensitive natural [resource] areas.” It also requires that REP integration into PREPA’s power grid be safe and that it “promotes a sustainable economy” for the Island; that these REPs comply with Puerto Rico’s “Environmental Public Policy Law”; and that pertinent government agencies such as the Environmental Quality Board (Junta de Calidad Ambiental) and the Permits Management Bureau (Oficina de Gerencia de Permisos) take whatever measures are necessary to comply with this EO.

The second EO, OE-2013-039, creates an “Autonomous Energy Council” (“AEC”) that will be responsible for the development of a new energy policy that establishes “sustainable energy strategies and practices that lead to energy independence.” Some of the areas that should be explored by the AEC include:

Evaluate strategies, and make recommendations in developing a new energy policy that transcends the change in governmental administrations.

Advise the Governor on specific measures that minimize Puerto Rico’s dependence on external energy resources with a clear and aggressive priority towards local resources (people, solar, wind, water, etc.), and that will facilitate more sensible, responsible and sustainable energy use.

Establishment of committees to enable AEC’s work and deliberations in at least the following areas: energy conservation and efficiency, local energy industry support, sustainable transportation alternatives, fuels, and make recommendations on how best to reform PREPA.
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