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San Juan, Puerto Rico (Dec. 11, 2022) La Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today initiated the process to develop a solar energy microgrid that will provide a secure source of electricity to the town of Maricao, Puerto Rico.

Both organizations published a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a solar PV project with a capacity of approximately 140 kWDC and 169 kWh in storage. As detailed in the RFP, the Maricao microgrid will include solar PV panels on the rooftops of five commercial buildings, two municipal buildings, and three residences.

Maricao, the second smallest municipality in Puerto Rico, is located in a mountainous region on the eastern border of the Cordillera Central between the towns of Yauco, Sabana Grande, San Germán, Mayagüez, Las Marías, and Lares. Landslides are very common in this area due to its topography and climatic conditions in Puerto Rico. The location negatively affects the electric service for prolonged periods of time due to limited access following emergencies. Long-term power outages reduce the quality of life for residents and threaten access to essential services.

This is the second microgrid developed in partnership between the two organizations. The first was a microgrid in the town of Castañer, which went online in May. The two microgrids are supported by the Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, an initiative led by IREC and Pathstone Corp. under a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

For Carlos Alberto Velázquez López, IREC’s Program Director in Puerto Rico, the Maricao microgrid solidifies the work by IREC and the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de Montaña to support and empower rural communities. “Due to the tragedy of Hurricane Maria and the chronic state of ‘energy emergency’ that Puerto Rico has lived through for more than a decade, nonprofits and the private sector have taken the lead in developing resiliency and energy justice initiatives with active participation from impacted communities. We have seen a lot of interest in these issues across the United States, recognizing that the integration of distributed generation into the grid is of vital importance for the reliability and resiliency of electric networks in Puerto Rico and throughout the country.”

C. P. Smith, executive director of the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña, added: “With the launch of the Request for Proposals for the Maricao Microgrid, the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña continues with a firm footing developing cost-effective and resilient renewable energy projects for the communities of the central mountain range of Puerto Rico.” Smith explained that by launching this RFP, the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña begins Phase 2 of the Cooperative’s Community Resilience through Photovoltaic Energy (ReEnFoCo) project. He continued: “In collaboration with IREC, Fundación Monte Azul, and leaders in Maricao, we will demonstrate what is possible in the center of the island.”

For the development of the Maricao microgrid, the RFP directs the selected party to design, install, and connect this solar energy system to the electric grid. For this project, the contractor could choose to provide financing via a 20-year loan, through a lease agreement, or through a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The developer could also choose to design a microgrid project that connects all the structures or two or more interconnected microgrids that allow electrical distribution.

Interested parties may contact [email protected] to submit a proposal. The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña will hold a virtual information session on Wednesday, December 14 at 3 p.m. AST, and a site visit in Maricao on Friday, December 16 at 11 a.m. AST. Proposals may be submitted until Wednesday, January 10, 2023.

The full RFP can be downloaded here: https://irecusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/12/Request-for-Proposals-Microrred-Maricao-Rev-6-09DEC22.pdf

The December 14 information session can be accessed at this link.

About IREC

IREC builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.