May 5, 2012
Energy and Environment, Economic Development
Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. and Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuno have signed a letter asking the White House to support an initiative to develop an electrical interconnection between the two U.S. territories.
The joint letter addressed to David Agnew, Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, asks the White House to provide leadership and interagency coordination to “to ensure that all the federal agencies work synergistically towards its successful realization.”
The 50-mile submarine cable would connect the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to the Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority. Puerto Rico could then sell excess capacity to the Virgin Islands, reducing electrical costs for both territories while improving the stability of the grid in the event of a natural disaster. The territories would expand the size of their energy markets and make the development of renewable energy more economically feasible.
Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anthony Babauta hosted an interagency meeting on September 27, 2011, at which a technical feasibility study conducted by Siemens Energy was presented.
“We were very encouraged by the expressions of support of the many federal agencies represented there, including the Departments of Commerce, State, and Agriculture,” the joint letter reads.
The project is more than a means to provide cheaper and more stable power to the Virgin Islands; or an opportunity to sell excess capacity for Puerto Rico. The two governors argue the interconnection advances larger national interests of promoting foreign policy objectives while dovetailing with major policy initiatives of the Obama administration.
The administration is seeking to promote regional cooperation with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas. The project would serve that end “by providing a prime example of how the federal government and two U.S. territories in the Caribbean partnered and worked together to make this electrical interconnection possible,” the governors write.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton both acknowledged the benefits of the project and the even greater potential of a Caribbean-wide electricity grid in remarks they delivered at the 2010 Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas Ministerial.
The next step forward for the project is to secure some $3 million to fund an environmental feasibility study.
Southern Governors’ Association (SGA), founded in 1934, is the oldest and historically the largest of the regional governors' associations. SGA uses the power of connection, collaboration and communications in a bipartisan manner to solve regional problems, improve quality of life and secure an economically vibrant and prosperous American South.