Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested shutting down the coal plant which produces one-fifth of Puerto Rico’s electricity.
During a Thursday hearing for the House Natural Resources Committee, Ocasio-Cortez expressed her desire to close down AES Puerto Rico’s coal plant in Guayama, which according to Center for Industrial Progress founder Alex Epstein, who testified before the committee that the plant provides 20 per cent of the power for the “electricity-challenged island.”
“I tried to convince her that this would be beyond devastating to the people of Puerto Rico,” he said on Twitter.
“Now I want to debunk… ‘chicken little’ arguments on how if we would close the coal plants, it would cause catastrophic effects for the energy supply on the island,” Ocasio-Cortez commented during the hearing. “AES could close tomorrow while keeping the lights on and preventing price increases on the island.”
“Energy is the industry that powers every other industry,” Epstein countered. “The lower cost and more reliable energy is, the lower cost and more reliable everything is, and vice versa. I just want to stress that Puerto Rico’s energy situation is terrible, and one of the reasons I want to testify today is nobody is talking about that. They’re talking about ‘How do we maintain the status quo?’ The status quo is terrible in Puerto Rico.”
“It definitely needs more low cost, reliable energy,” he continued. “And just as one more comment, it doesn’t seem like anyone here knows the actual effect.”
Epstein expressed his disappointment with the Congresswoman, noting that only 2.5 per cent of Puerto Rico’s energy comes from renewable sources.
“This is so disappointing that we’re talking about this so unseriously,” he noted.
Later in the hearing, Epstein stated: “I don’t mean to pick on Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, but she tweeted that the infrastructure’s failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal. No — in fact, plenty of places around the world can deal with hot and cold when they have enough reliable, resilient electricity. Texas defunded reliable, resilient electricity, including winterization, to pay tens of billions of dollars for unreliable solar and wind that don’t work when you need them the most.”
Epstein added that Ocasio-Cortez’s energy policies “would make Puerto Rico into truly a consistently third-world country.”
The majority of energy in Puerto Rico comes from oil, natural gas, and coal, with only a small fraction coming from green sources. In his extended testimony, Epstein elaborated on Puerto Rico’s costly energy despite rampant poverty throughout the territory:
Here are three crucial facts that I almost never hear discussed about Puerto Rico. First, the percentage of Puerto Ricans currently living in poverty is 43%. It’s 10% in the 50 states. Second, the cost of energy in Puerto Rico vs. the states is up to 3 times higher. Third, the per capita income in Puerto Rico is $13,000.
Honorable members, does it strike you as fair that someone earning $13,000 per year should be paying 3 times what you and I pay for the energy that powers our homes? I don’t think that’s fair. And I’m sure you don’t either. So what’s the solution?
While we are told that solar and wind can provide low-cost, reliable energy, nothing could be further from the truth. Because solar and wind are unreliable, they don’t replace reliable power plants — they add to the cost of reliable power plants.