Albany, N.Y. (Nov. 7, 2019) — At the SOMOS conference in Puerto Rico, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State is providing significant design and engineering expertise to build a state-of-the-art power system in Puerto Rico, helping modernize and strengthen the island’s electric grid following the catastrophic damage caused by Hurricane Maria. New York State is helping Puerto Rico build its first automated digital substation, capable of processing up to 40 megawatts – enough to process power for up to 40,000 homes. The automated digital substation will be built at the Monacillo Control Center in the San Juan-metro area and serve as a model for rebuilding the 17 substations that were flooded during Hurricane Maria. Additionally, New York Power Authority engineers are helping design a substation automation lab at Monacillo that will be used to train engineers and technicians on the latest substation automation technology.
“New York will not leave our fellow Americans behind and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Puerto Rico on the path to recovery until the job is done,” Governor Cuomo said. “The state-of-the-art technology and training expertise we are providing today will help the island rebuild stronger and make it more resilient in the face of future storms so that our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico don’t have to relive the nightmare of Hurricane Maria going forward.”
Additionally, NYPA is partnering with PREPA to reconfigure the Culebra power plant to ensure that it will be able to provide electric service to both Culebra and Vieques in the event that the island systems experiences a power disruption from the mainland. NYPA will also help PREPA design two planned hybrid-microgrid projects on Culebra and Vieques that will incorporate solar panels, battery storage and emergency generators, providing needed storm resiliency and back-up power options.
NYPA is also coordinating with PREPA to harden and modernize the Humacao Industrial District, which was heavily damaged during the storm, with new substations and underground power lines, transforming the area into a model electric system for the seven other regions in Puerto Rico. With several large pharmaceutical companies operating in the district, it is essential to the Puerto Rico economy for the region to maintain its operations without power disruption.
Last month, Governor Cuomo announced the Power Authority reinforced its support on the ground in Puerto Rico, deploying a new team of engineers and power experts to join with technical staff from PREPA to ramp up troubleshooting and assessments of the island’s generation system and work to mitigate the latest outages and prevent future disruptions. The latest additional assistance builds on a 2018 Memorandum of Understanding between NYPA and PREPA to help Puerto Rico rebuild its power grid, organize and maximize efficiencies in its utility operations and prepare for future severe storms.
NYPA is collaborating closely with PREPA to develop strategic long-term investment plans that promote the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar arrays, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and increasing resiliency across the territory.
NYPA, with partnerships established through the American Public Power Associations’ mutual aid process, has supported Puerto Rico’s power grid recovery effort since Hurricane Maria hit in the fall of 2017. A NYPA team of more than 20 technical experts assessed virtually all the island’s 330 substations, identifying 17 flooded and damaged facilities that will now be rebuilt on higher ground or elevated platforms through mutual aid funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Between November 2017 and April 2018, more than 1,000 New York State utility personnel, led by NYPA, went to Puerto Rico to help restore power in response to a request by Puerto Rico for mutual aid resources following the severe damage from Hurricane Maria. The New York State utility crews, with a force of roughly 450 personnel at all times, undertook repairs to transmission lines and other electric infrastructure work focusing its initial power restoration efforts in the San Juan-metro area.
Gil C. Quiniones, NYPA President and CEO, said, “Since day one after Hurricane Maria, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, NYPA has been on the ground assisting Puerto Rico with restoring its electric system and hardening it for future potential storms. Puerto Rico is particularly vulnerable to devastating tropical storms and we at NYPA are honored to bring New York State’s utility expertise to the islands to help them harden their systems and provide affordable and renewable energy to residents and visitors on these beautiful islands.”