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Why We Are Leaving

Fri, Jul 21, 2017

Energías renovables

By Raoul Slavin*

Last week – across the harbor from Fortaleza and at a short distance from the Palo Seco Power Plant – a boom lift rose within a Cataño factory and took the Aspenall Energies logo off the wind turbines spinning there.

The local office has been shut; the staff has moved to our new headquarters in Minnesota; the turbines in Puerto Rico have been given away.  An entirely Puerto Rican entity founded ten years ago with entirely Puerto Rican capital has now left the island entirely.

Our company’s goal has always been to invest in renewable energy.  The irony is that over the past ten years we have been able to do that successfully almost everywhere else in the world.  Through Aspenall and its affiliates we finance, build, operate and/or own renewable energy projects on every continent but Antartica.  And, of course, Puerto Rico.

Some of the entities we invest in – like M-Kopa or GEEREF – are leading examples of the many new and exciting ways that now exist to provide clean, sustainable energy.  And yet the discourse in Puerto Rico remains unchanged, endlessly repeating the same tired premises.  Many of them were used by the Junta in their Wall Street Journal article.  This is insane.

First, Puerto Rico is an island.  Electricity will never be cheap.  Look at Singapore; look at Ireland; look at Hawaii.  Benchmarking to Alabama is pure foolishness.  PREPA will be privatized not for the betterment of the island but because there is no other option, and if you cling to the idea of cheap energy when PREPA is privatized you will only relive what Puerto Rico went through when it tried to privatize PRASA – mutual accusations of deception and no real progress.  The Puerto Rican power grid suffers from thirty years of deferred maintenance, and almost all its power plants are coastal and will be impacted by rising sea levels.  To build an economic plan on cheaper electricity rates is an act of willful blindness.

Second – PREPA behaves the way it does because the Government allows it to do so.  We have been witness to four administrations refusing to implement their own laws while claiming impotence in the face of PREPA’s intransigence on topics ranging from renewable energy integration to regulation and oversight.  While the Junta hascarte blanche, it adheres to the same premises, and assigns to PREPA the same throbbing economic importance that has allowed PREPA to resist change for decades.  To this we can only reply – get out a little.  Travel the world.  Go to emerging markets, get a taste of what economic growth really looks like.

Is it possible to do business in a country in which the sovereign does not respect its own laws and contracts?  More to the point, is it proper? Is it moral to mortgage our children’s future to a country which has consistently favored outside players over local ones?   We think not.

We are leaving, in the end, because we feel we have a responsibility to fight climate change, and have been prevented from doing that here.  Sea levels are rising, the climate is changing.  We live now in a world where inaction has real and tangible consequences.

We will do what we can.  It will clearly not be from here.

  • El autor es gerente de Aspenall Energies
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14 Responses to “Why We Are Leaving”

  1. Ramón B. Levy says:

    For those who say that Aspenall has nothing to do with PRASA, please follow these links

    http://aspenallprasa.tumblr.com/

    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=88911036

    Their departure will not be missedReport

  2. HSB says:

    ha, ha, ha Raoul…. you reap what you sow… …you will not be missed.Report

  3. Ramón B. Levy says:

    Este señor, NACIDO Y CRIADO en Puerto Rico, pero evidentemente NO BORICUA, culpa a otros de su fracaso. En primer lugar, los requisitos que la AEE (o la entidad sucesora que sea) fija o fijará a los renovables intermitentes NO SON un capricho, son necesarios para proteger un sistma aislado de un colapso. Los va a encontrar en circunstancias similares en todas partes. Eso no es culpa de la Junta, del PNP, ni del PPD, es una realidad técnica. En segundo lugar, olvida mencionar su rol en el chanchullo del ventilador instalado en la planta de la AAA en Puerto Nuevo, unidad que no podia generar y que lo ponían a girar para hacer el papel de que funcionaba para las elecciones de 2012. No necesitamos gente asi aqui.Report

    • HSB says:

      Albeit not a fan of Mr. Slavin’s “business practices” and “me, myself and I” business model I can attest he had nothing to do with the Bechara project in the format that you accuse him. That windmill has a high capacity factor and it was a good project, if you want to look why the unit is not working the point your guns at the previous PREPA directors (Juan Alicea, Sonia, Sonia Miranda, Carmen Cruz, Rafael Perez Jimenez, Carlos Castro and Ramon Caldas Pagan) for abandoning it, much like the rest of the infrastructure during their 4-year vacation …I mean tenure… …Raoul had nothing to do with it, the previous PREPA managerial staff had everything to do with it. The “brakes” on the windmill (blade tips folded) were put on 1st January 2013.Report

    • HSB says:

      Albeit not a fan of Mr. Slavin’s “business practices” and “me, myself and I” business model I can attest he had nothing to do with the Bechara project in the format that you accuse him. That windmill has a high capacity factor and it was a good project, if you want to look why the unit is not working then point your guns at the gross incompetence of the previous PREPA directors (Juan Alicea, Sonia Miranda, Carmen Cruz, Rafael Perez Jimenez, Carlos Castro, Ramon Caldas Pagan) for abandoning it, much like the rest of the infrastructure during their 4-year vacation …I mean tenure… …Raoul had nothing to do with it, the previous PREPA managerial staff had everything to do with it. The “brakes” on the windmill (blade tips folded) were put on 1st January 2013 by the people I mention on this list, it had nothing to do with Mr Slavin.Report

    • Karla says:

      Lo que es no tener conocimiento sobre lo que se habla. El no tiene absolutamente nada que ver con la turbina que usted menciona. Le exhorto a informarse mejor antes de meter la pata en foros pùblicos. IrresponsableReport

  4. incme sabatuchi says:

    la creatividad d los prriqueños es totamente nula .seran 30 años d perdidas y 10 + d recriminacionesReport

  5. Why weren’t the tax breaks enough to keep you?Report

    • Ramón B. Levy says:

      Slavin habla español perfectamente. No lo valides preguntandole en inglés. Nada le impide tener aqui la base de una empresa con proyectos en otros lugares. Incluso, con las nuevas leyes, probablemente le convendría económicamente. Su problema principal no es el clima comercial, es su actitud de arrogancia.Report

    • HSB says:

      Raoul habla español… …lo que le paso es el penso que con espejos y bicicletas podia comprar latifundios pero se equivoco.Report

  6. Amigos, desafortunadamente no estamos en posición de cambiar el rumbo, llevo al menos 22 años escribiendo versos satíricos de lo que vaticino será la realidad nuestra. Desaparecer como sociedad, Lo empecé cuando al retirarme de la industria 936, se nos dió 10 años para que las 936 cesaran y no se logró nada para sustituirlas, se pensó que el buen tío del norte no nos abandonaría, yo laboré con ellos 30 años y advertí que eso no sucedería, no me creyeron, me llamaron Negativo, Profeta del Desastre, Pesimista y algunos epítetos impublicables.
    Hoy la mayoría de los que así me describían han cerrado sus negocios y oficinas y muchos se han mudado al norte. Otros viven del SS, retiros y de los que sus hijos le pueden ayudar.
    Sigo preguntando que se ha hecho o se va a hacer para cambiar el rumbo, la junta?, la jueza?, eso no creará empleos que es la piedra angular de la economia.
    Un pais sin autoridad para negociar nada ni para proteger sus negocios locales desaparece.Report

  7. Rosa Maria Gonzalez says:

    El cambio climatico, un asunto que pasa totalmente desatendido por los gobiernos en Puerto Rico, se llevara no solo las plantas electricas en las costas sino tambien los aeropuertos y los puertos, indispensables en una Isla que quedara incomunicada. Que pasara en caso de una emergencia? Como se traeran alimentos, medicinas? Cual es el plan?Report

    • incme sabatuchi says:

      l plan d trump es evitar un conflicto nuclear con putin q destruya totalmente a puerto rico y dividir una posible alianza entre rusia y china q sea mortal para nuestra patria .la radiacion d fukushima contaminara primero l pacifico antes d q la pesca n puerto rico quede prohibida por la contaminacion radiactiva .la subida del mar es un mito d las estupideces d los liberales comunistas .lo mejor es apoyar a trump con oraciones para q tenga exito n su empresaReport

  8. RAMON DOMINGUEZ says:

    La legislatura de PR no toma en serio el desgaste económico y las implicaciones nefastas para el pueblo…tengo un carro que vence la tablilla en marzo 30 2017 … ayer julio 20 recibí la licencia para renovar marbete por correo.. ya la había impreso por internet… pero te revela la apatía del servicio publico hacia industria y comercio… el gobierno no acaba de entender que debe reformarse… el mantra del populismo está tan arraigado y predicado por partidos que no puedo ver cómo salimos de esta depresión a menos que venga un colapso total y ya no pueda bajar másReport

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