The Resiliencia Energética Fotovoltaica Comunitaria project (in English, Community Resilience through Photovoltaic Energy, and represented in Spanish by the acronym, ReEnFoCo) will install hundreds of photovoltaic systems — 5 megawatts in the first phase— on the roofs of local businesses, community centers (including churches) and some residences of the more remote communities of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Lares, and Utuado. The ReEnFoCo project is a community resilience program to ensure that residents of the most remote areas have access to electricity after the next natural disaster and, under normal conditions, cost-effective electricity with a fixed price. These grid-linked systems will include battery storage and a bimodal controller to ensure power generation even when the power grid is not in operation.
The cooperative estimates that the project will take 18 months from the approval of financing, with a capital investment estimated at $17.5 million for every block of 5 megawatts of photovoltaic systems installed. The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña will retain ownership of the systems and lease them to the Owner-Members of the cooperative with a fixed payment in exchange for electric power service, which will be more cost-effective and predictable than the current electricity bill, which will soon include speculative costs for fossil fuel.
The project focuses on impacting Puerto Rico's most remote rural communities, providing a focus on forgotten and ignored citizens who were without power for more than one year in the municipalities of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Lares and Utuado.
How will the residents of the Cordillera Central achieve this large-scale and impactful project?
Yes, it is true, the projects of the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña — Hidroenergía Renace, ReEnFoCo and Microrred de la Montaña — are large projects with the potential for positive and transformative impact on tens of thousands of lives in the Cordillera Central. But we don't stop doing necessary things because they are difficult or because they are novel. To be successful this project needs collaboration and cooperation. That is why these projects are formed under the structure of a cooperative. That is why the cooperative integrates the municipalities of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Lares and Utuado, so that they are participants in the project. The scope of the projects will be improved when several municipalities come together and participate in sharing the responsibilities and benefits of natural resources and the electricity they generate, and in turn, keep control of those resources in the hands of their residents. What we need is for political leaders representing the residents in the service area to come together to help accelerate development of this project.
As a resident, if I also wish to make use of a photovoltaic system, would I have two invoices? Would I have an invoice for the lease of the photovoltaic system and another bill for consumption from the distribution grid?
You would NOT have two separate invoices. The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña will have the responsibility of sending you an invoice of your total consumption per kilowatt hour according to the analysis submitted of your residence and the number of panels to be used; in short, you would receive a single global invoice. This billing will be approved by the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau.
What is the current status of the ReEnFoCo project?
On September 7, 2021, the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña launched Phase 1(A) of the ReEnFoCo project by issuing the Request for Proposal for the construction of the Microgrid of Castañer project. On October 22, 2021, the Selection Committee selected the project’s referred Contractor. Currently, the design and contracting process for the Microgrid of Castañer is its final stages. Designs have been submitted to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to obtain permits to connect the microgrid to the distribution grid. The cooperative is also working on a request for financing for the construction of this microgrid and a motion for the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau to operate the microgrid. The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña continues its efforts by identifying within the service area other communities for Phase 1(B)of the ReEnFoCo project with the expectation of operating on a larger scale after completing Phase 1(B) of the ReEnFoCo project.