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Puerto Rico Gov Joins List of Govs Using Executive Orders to Boost Renewable Energy

May 22, 2013

Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla recently issued three executive orders aimed at advancing the island's renewable energy industry. The orders will grant priority approvals to renewable energy projects and introduce two new councils that will coordinate energy initiatives. Gov. Garcia Padilla joins a growing list of governors who have used executive orders to quickly implement energy policies without going to the legislature. The National Governors Association (NGA)has published an issue brief on the use of executive orders in energy policy, along with an index of these orders since 2008.

Gov. Garcia Padilla's orders call for priority to be given to renewable energy projects under the condition that these projects conserve areas of high ecological and agricultural value. Projects also must have the infrastructure to connect to the island's Power Authority without increasing the cost of electricity to consumers.

In addition, the governor has created two new bodies to coordinate energy efforts. The Council of Energy Independence will develop a new energy policy for the island, seeking citizen input and bringing together local governments and agencies. The council will include representatives from the Puerto Rican Planning Board, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the Electric Power Authority, the Energy Affairs Administration, the governor's Energy Affairs advisor and three citizens appointed by the governor.

The second council, the Electric Reliability Council, will submit recommendations on how to overcome short-term challenges to connect renewable energy projects to the island's power grid. In doing so, it will help negotiate interconnection agreements and address short-term technical barriers.

Read Gov Garcia Padilla's announcement (in Spanish) at: http://www.fortaleza.pr.gov/node/105.

Puerto Rican governors have used executive orders in the past to further energy goals. In 2008, Gov. Acevedo Vilá created a commission on climate change, and later established an energy reduction target for state agencies, with executive orders.

Such orders are becoming standard tools for governors looking to quickly implement energy policy changes, according to NGA. In the issue brief, Using Executive Orders to Advance Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, NGA suggests that these flexible tools are helping to diversify each state's energy portfolio based on the unique resources available. In aggregate, these efforts are boosting the country's energy sustainability, independence and competitiveness.

The issue brief outlines each instance of governors using executive orders for energy efficiency and renewable energy from 2008-2012. NGA has identified 36 such orders during that period. Most of these have set requirements for energy efficiency or renewable energy at state agencies. In doing so, governors can help the state lead by example, create a market for energy efficiency technologies and increase demand for power from renewable sources.

Other executive orders have created task forces to study energy technologies and policies. These include the launch of Nevada's New Energy Industry Task Force and Connecticut's Green Jobs Council, both in 2009. Councils of this sort, including Puerto Rico's new Council of Energy Independence, can be used to draw the business community and the public into the policy conversation over the need for sustainable sources of energy. In the case of Connecticut's Green Jobs Council, the council was able to bring together state agencies and businesses to successfully apply for a U.S. Department of Labor grant. The grant helped the state expand its green job training efforts, develop career pathways for energy jobs and connect green workforce priorities with statewide economic development goals.

The NGA issue brief, along with the associated index of executive orders, offers a useful overview of how executive orders are evolving into a key tool in cultivating state renewable energy sectors.

Read the NGA issue brief, Using Executive Orders to Advance Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and access the index of Governors' Executive Orders on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 2009-2012 at: http://www.nga.org/cms/home/nga-center-for-best-practices/center-publications/page-eet-publications/col2-content/main-content-list/using-executive-orders-to-advanc.html.

Puerto Ricointernational, cleantech, energy