Largest' wind farm in Caribbean begins production

Carl Dombek | Nov 01, 2012

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A wind generation facility that its producer, Pattern Energy, calls the largest wind generation facility in the Caribbean began producing energy on the island of Puerto Rico Oct. 28.

The company’s Finca de Viento Santa Isabel (FVSI), or St. Isabel Wind Farm, located on the island’s southern coast about 27 kilometers (16.8 miles) east of the city of Ponce, is the first commercial-scale wind power project in Puerto Rico and the largest in the Caribbean, the company said.

The facility began producing energy as Puerto Rico Governor Luis G. Fortuño officially started operations by energizing the first set of turbines, a Pattern Energy spokesperson told TransmissionHub Oct. 30.

During the inauguration ceremony, Fortuño called the start of operations “a giant step forward toward our energy diversification goals.”

The energy the facility produces will advance the administration’s commitment to reduce the U.S. territory’s dependence on oil by diversifying energy sources, according to the governor.

Finca de Viento Santa Isabel is the first wind power project developed by Pattern Energy in the Caribbean. It is comprised of 44 state-of-the-art Siemens wind turbines with a nameplate capacity of 2.3 MW each, giving the project a total generating capacity of up to 95 MW.

The facility will help the island achieve the current administration’s aggressive plan to diversify Puerto Rico’s energy sources. It will also help exceed the goal of generating 12% renewable energy by 2015, 15% by 2020 and 20% by 2035.

In addition, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) recently revised its 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) and will purchase the facility’s full 95-MW generating capacity. The increase from the PPA’s original 75 MW means a greater infusion of clean energy into Puerto Rico’s grid without an increase to the project size, according to the Pattern Energy spokesperson.

“Through collaboration with PREPA, we were able to increase the power generation capacity, helping the island get closer to its clean energy goals and enhancing the benefits this project will provide for the generations of Puerto Ricans to come,” Hunter Armistead, executive director of Pattern Energy, said in a statement announcing the facility’s dedication.

PREPA also inaugurated the 23.7-MW AES Ilumina solar project in Guayama, about 36 kilometers (22.4 miles) east of Santa Isabel, on Oct. 8. Other projects will be completed in the near future, including Gestamp’s 23-MW wind farm in Punta Lima on the eastern end of the island.

That project will employ 13 Vestas wind turbines with a nameplate generating capacity of 1.8 MW each.

Renewable energy projects in operation and under construction in several areas of the island will generate more than 220 MW of renewable energy, making Puerto Rico’s system stronger and more diverse, Josué Colón, PREPA’s executive director, said in a statement.

“That will help us continue our efforts to lower the energy production costs on the island,” he added.

“Projects such as this one are not only good for the environment, they are good for our economy,” said Fortuño.

“Finca de Viento Santa Isabel alone has brought a $250m private investment into our economy, provided jobs for 350 Puerto Ricans—almost double of the original projection—and will continue to generate income and contribute to our local economy for the next 20 years,” the governor added.

Carl Dombek is senior for TransmissionHub, a unit of Energy Central

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