President Clinton is visiting Puerto Rico today, Caribbean Business reports, in preparation for talks on how Puerto Rico can use new approaches to energy in support of economic recovery.
Clinton, who has a strong track record on alternative energy through the Clinton Foundation, said in 2008 that “Puerto Rico could and should become the first energy self-sufficient jurisdiction in the U.S.”
Puerto Rico has strong motivation to seek alternative energy options, because electricty is about twice as costly on the island than it is on the mainland. Fossil fuels must be imported to Puerto Rico from the mainland, and 68% of Puerto Rico’s electricity is created through the use of petroleum, 16% from natural gas, and 15% from coal. Hydraulic power accounts for only about one percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity.
At the same time, Puerto Rico has the potential to rely on wind and solar to a far greater degree than many other places. There are currently two wind power plants, in Santa Isabel and Punta da Lima, which can produce 120 megawatts. The largest solar power plant in the region is planned in Puerto Rico, along with further wind power plants. Geothermal power and hydraulic power both could come from the ocean and produce significant proportions of the energy needed for homes and businesses in Puerto Rico.
The Green Energy Fund offers incentives for sustainable energy projects ranging from wind and solar to geothermal, biofuels, and biomass combustion. DSIRE lists more initiatives already in place — seven, compared to the one initiative in place in the Virgin Islands and none at all in the other U.S. territories, but still fewer than in most states.
Clinton is expected to discuss further initiatives that might be available through the Clinton Foundation.