History Of PREPA

Sketch of Our History

In 1893 the first private lighting system in Puerto Rico was installed by José Ramón Figueroa, of Villalba. Since then, up until the inauguration of the Carite #1 Hydroelectric Plant in 1915, all electric power in Puerto Rico was produced and distributed by private companies established in the Island's most important urban centers.

The Carite #1 Hydroelectric Plant was constructed by the South Coast Irrigation Service to make use of the water head from the Carite Lake to the irrigation channels. This was the first hydroelectric plant owned and operated by the government. In this way the production and distribution of electric power with the purpose of promoting social wealth instead of profit began in Puerto Rico.

The development of government owned electric power systems required the creation of a new government agency. This new agency would be in charge of managing the irrigation systems and of operating and expanding the electric power systems. In 1926 an agency named Utilización de las Fuentes Fluviales (Water Resources Use) was created.

The year 1937 marked the beginning of a new era in the development of government electric power services in Puerto Rico. It was then that the government started to incorporate the private power services to its system with the purchase of the Ponce Electric Company. The latter owned a steam plant in Ponce that served the city. It became the government's first Thermoelectric Plant.

Utilización was able to accelerate the construction of electric power facilities with funds obtained from the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration. This agency was created in 1935 to reduce unemployment and develop an economic rebuilding program on the Island. Up until 1941, the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration had invested $230 million in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority

The explosive increase in demand for electric power propelled the creation of a new government agency, independent from the Department of the Interior. It should have sufficient freedom and flexibility to provide the necessary financing to expand the generation system and the electric lines. Thus emerged the first public corporation in Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority (PRWRA), created by virtue of Law #83 of May 2, 1941. In 1950, the San Juan Thermoelectric Plant was inaugurated. It marked the beginning of large scale electric power production in Puerto Rico with the use of petroleum. During this decade, the Palo Seco Thermoelectric Plant in Cataño and the one at Costa Sur in Guayanilla were also built.

Also in 1963, the PRWRA installed a 13,000 watt cable, approximately 10 miles long, to interconnect the electric systems of Vieques and the Big Island of Puerto Rico. In 1964 the PRWRA carried out the first experiments to diversify the Island's power sources, with the creation in Rincón of the first experimental Nuclear Central in Latin América, the Central Bonus. During the 70's the PRWRA went through the last expansion stage of its power generation system. In 1974, the Aguirre Thermoelectric Plant was inaugurated. Later, the Combined Cycle Plant was constructed. At that time, petroleum and its derivatives were the power source responsible for 98% of the electricity used on the island, while water represented a mere 2%.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority

On May 30, 1979, by virtue of Law #57, the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority changed its name to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. The change was due to new circumstances, because water or fuentes fluviales no longer were the principal source of electricity on the Island. In 1981 PREPA acquired the electric system owned by the Municipality of Cayey. In this way came about the completion of the consolidation of all electric systems in Puerto Rico under one sole entity.