The Island of Enchantment Is Struggling To Kick The Fossil Fuel Habit

State Economy

The population of the  “Island of Enchantment.” Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is approximately 2.73 million people[1]. In 2021, 100% of the people in this American territory in the Caribbean had access to electricity[2].

In 2021, Puerto Rico’s economy was ranked 63rd in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[3]. The country’s economy is dependent on the export[4] of packaged medicaments, vaccines, antibiotics, and medical equipment.

Environmental Policies

In 2016, the United States and territories like Puerto Rico and American Samoa signed the Paris Climate Agreement[5], committing to a 26% domestic reduction in greenhouse gases by 2025, compared to 2005.

In 2017, President Donald Trump announced that the U.S. would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The United States formerly withdrew from the Paris Agreement on November 4, 2020.

In 2019, Puerto Rico’s government mandated the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) generate 40% of all its electricity from renewable resources by 2025, 60% by 2040, and 100% by 2050.

In 2020, the PREPA used liquified natural gas (34.9%), oil (30.1%), renewable energy (20.7%), and coal (14.3%) to generate electricity[6]. Wind, solar, and hydropower are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Puerto Rico.

In 2021, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would officially rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States formerly rejoined the Paris Agreement on February 19, 2021.

In January 2022, the average price for residential electricity in Puerto Rico[7] was 21.06 ¢ per kWh, compared to the average price for residential electricity in the United States of 13.75 ¢ per kWh. Puerto Rico’s use of oil-fueled power plants contributes to the high cost of electricity.

Renewable energy developments in Puerto Rico include:

  • 146 MW Solar Project – Canadian development company, Greenbriar Capital has commenced work on the Montalva Photovoltaic Solar project at a site approximately 75 miles southwest of the capital, San Juan. The project is forecast to be commissioned in 2023.
  • 2 MW Wind Project – In November 2012, California renewable energy company, Pattern Energy Group commissioned the Santa Isabel Wind project at a site approximately 30 miles southwest of San Juan.
  • 27 MW Solar Project – In September 2013, Puerto Rican renewable energy company, Coqui Power commissioned the San Fermin Solar project at a site approximately 5 miles east of San Juan.
  • 5 MW Solar + 1.1 MW Energy Storage – Italian utility Enel and Irish power company Eaton are continuing work on a solar plus energy storage system at a site approximately 30 miles west of San Juan. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2022.


In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico. It took eleven months for the common wealth’s utility, PREPA to restore power to the island. The hurricane demonstrated the importance of solar power and energy storage systems.

Puerto Rico, like many island countries is still dependent on imported fossil fuels (coal, oil, and liquified natural gas) to fuel power plants. However, the threat of climate change has caused most island governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Puerto Rico imports all fossil fuels for the commonwealth’s power plants. The import of these increasingly expensive fossil fuels negatively impacts the economy.

Puerto Rico has significant renewable energy resource potential including onshore wind, solar, offshore wind, hydropower, and biomass. However, the devastation from Hurricane Maria and increasing fossil fuel prices have limited the commonwealth’s ability to fund new renewable energy projects.

It is highly unlikely that Puerto Rico will be able to generate 40% of the commonwealth’s electricity by 2025. The Island of Enchantment struggling to kick the fossil fuel habit.


Jack Kerfoot

Website “Our Energy Conundrum”


Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on a wide range of energy topics.



[1] Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Population (2022) –  May 8, 2022,

[2] The World Bank Group, Access to Electricity (% of Population – Puerto Rico

[3] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2021 – Worldometer

[4] The Observatory of Economic Complexity – Puerto Rico

[5] Carbon Brief “Paris 2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[6] Our World In Data, Puerto Rico: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

[7] U.S. Energy Information Agency – Puerto Rico Territory Profile and Energy Estimates

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