Solar Energy Making a Difference at PRASA Guaynabo Plant

The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico is fully committed to supporting the Puerto Rico Government, agencies, and public corporations as they continue to transition to renewable energy.

One important example of this broad government initiative is the on-site solar energy project of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority’s (PRASA) Los Filtros water treatment plant in Guaynabo, which members of the Oversight Board’s infrastructure team visited recently.  

The solar energy project is a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Windmar Energy dating back to 2013, and has a total capacity of 500 kilowatt alternating current (kW AC). The system began operations in October 2013, and as part of the project, 2,688 photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of the water distribution tank at Los Filtros.

Felix Mena, PRASA’s Energy Director, said the project paid off. Solar energy now supplies 79% of the energy needs at Los Filtros, with the remaining 21% provided by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA). Since 2013, PRASA estimates it saved about $364,000 in electricity costs at Los Filtros – not to mention the added benefits of using clean, renewable energy. “Our focus is on saving money and energy,” Mena said.

Los Filtros is an important source of water for many residents and businesses in the Guaynabo and San Juan area, serving more than 61,000 customers. Los Filtros has a total capacity of 30 million gallons of water a day (MGD) and its average production is that of 22 MGD.

Starting in 2011, PRASA initiatives to improve the water infrastructure included reducing electricity expenses through PPAs at its water and wastewater treatment facilities. Today, PRASA has 10 facilities operating with solar energy systems to complement electricity connections to the grid. The 10 facilities islandwide include water treatment plants, wastewater treatment plants and a water pumping station. PRASA’s numbers show that the savings generated by this PPA initiative are approximately $2.4 million between fiscal years 2018 and 2022.

In the meantime, PRASA is in the process of developing at least three more solar energy projects at its facilities: the North Coast Super Aqueduct and Bayamón plant, both expected in fiscal year 2024, and the new Central Laboratory in Caguas, now under construction and expected to be completed in the Third Quarter of 2023. The solar energy projects at these facilities are also being developed as PPAs.

According to PRASA’s Certified Fiscal Plan, an additional 15 solar energy projects are planned around Puerto Rico between fiscal years 2024 and 2026. The sooner these projects get done, the sooner PRASA can reduce its electricity expenses and harvest the savings. 

The Oversight Board is looking forward to these positive developments at PRASA, as the water utility continues to improve services to the people of Puerto Rico.

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