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Setting our Sights on How to Prepare for Tomorrow’s Energy Challenges

Thursday, March 21st , 2019

Convention Center – San Juan, Puerto Rico

Imagine a Puerto Rico where the power never goes out and blackouts are a thing of the distant past.  Where there is no need for back-up generators and the supply of electricity to homes and businesses is stable, consistent and cheap.  Where communities are resilient and natural disasters no longer darken our hospitals and homes.  A Puerto Rico where we harvest all of our energy needs from renewable sources, where the air we breathe is clean, the environment is green and healthy and where thousands of new jobs in clean energy are generated every year.

The first step in this complicated pathway is developing a new vision based on thinking beyond the confines of Puerto Rico. This must be achieved with a clear understanding of the island’s limitation and challenges. The Center for a New Economy (CNE) is Puerto Rico’s leading think tank who has been studying, analyzing and publishing reports and research on Puerto Rico’s Energy Sector for 15 years.

In hosting Black Start: Future of Energy Summit, CNE will: 

  • Provoke out of the box thinking on Puerto Rico’s energy future.
  • Provide concrete solutions to decision makers as they currently undertake the re-building of Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure.

BlackStart 2019 is the first in a series of multi-annual events designed to provide the platform necessary for thinking, imagining, and planning to fulfill our dreams for Puerto Rico’s energy future. The audience will be a strategically curated mix of local and international decision makers, private sector leaders, academics, policy makers, students, community stakeholders, journalists, and business principals. 

Discussion Topics at Black Start Energy Summit:

A Vision for the 21st Century Utility.  PREPA continues to be the largest public power utility in the U.S. Despite its size and complexity, the reputation shared among consumers is one of significant dissatisfaction given high costs and unreliability. Reimaging its future will require an in-depth analysis of what characteristics a modern utility must have and who should be in charge of developing this vision.  Join experts as they discuss the global energy landscape, where the utility is today, and what opportunities lie ahead.

Cutting Edge Generation Technologies.  Much debate has ignited around the incorporation of new technologies and the ability of the island to adapt to a new, modern system.  A clear distinction between the different technologies available and how they translate to Puerto Rico’s reality remains foreign to many. Join experts as they compare differences between centralized and distributed structures, traditional fuel generation and renewable technologies, and government-managed versus customer-owned solutions.


The Grid.  Since its inception, PREPA has primarily operated under a highly centralized generation model with complex transmission and distribution system. Many stakeholders, including federal lawmakers, have emphasized the need for efficiency and flexibility in the design of a new grid.  Panelists will evaluate different operational models seeking to modernize the grid, enhancing its reliability while maintaining affordable rates for consumers.  This discussion will hone in on everything from infrastructure hardening, microgrids and smart technologies to the development and incorporation of storage and other resilience solutions. 


Regulatory and Financial Issues.   In the wake of Hurricane Maria, both the local and Federal governments anticipated an influx of funds for the utility to rebuild the grid. As discussions ensue over the direction of the utility, the government of Puerto Rico altered the regulatory and oversight framework that governs it.  In addition to governance and operational challenges, PREPA also faces a significant $9 billion debt which could result in restrictions to accessing necessary capital investments. While there are ongoing discussions to privatize the utility, long-term plans should integrate performance-based contracting and a framework for debt repayment.  Panelists will discuss financial issues and the necessary regulatory scheme as it absorbs a new operational structure. 

Participants, Panelists & Speakers:   CNE is pleased to announce the participation of Anderson Cooper, Anchor of AC360 and 60 Minutes correspondent as special guest moderator. We have  Fred Krupp and Jeremy Rifkin as keynote speakers.

Stay tuned for weekly updates of local and international participants, panelists and speakers that will be part of this full-day event.

Additional Reading: A Renewable Energy Future for Puerto Rico
Additional Reading: