Energy-as-a-service powers Puerto Rico project

April 3, 2024
Eaton uses clean-energy microgrid system to reduce carbon footprint

Eaton cut the ribbon on a clean-energy project at its Arecibo, Puerto Rico, manufacturing facility, where the company makes circuit breakers used in industrial applications, as well as buildings and homes. The size of the clean-energy microgrid system deployed by Eaton and Enel North America is a first in Puerto Rico, designed to substantially reduce the facility’s carbon footprint, boost energy resilience and bolster community infrastructure. Eaton also implemented efficiency measures using its intelligent power management technologies to reduce its energy footprint.

“Communities and businesses everywhere need far more sustainable, resilient and affordable power,” said Mike Yelton, president, Americas region, electrical sector, at Eaton. “The projects at our Arecibo manufacturing facility provide a blueprint on how to put the energy transition to work—delivering important benefits for the community and our business. Together, with our longtime project partner Enel North America, we’re demonstrating the important role microgrids play in creating a robust energy infrastructure prepared to address the impact from climate change.”

The clean-energy project in Puerto Rico demonstrates Eaton’s Everything as a Grid approach to the energy transition that enables flexible energy systems, supporting more resilient, efficient and affordable power. The project is designed to generate more than half of the facility’s energy needs to help reduce emissions, offset energy costs and ensure resilience during grid outage events.

The microgrid system incorporates 5 MWac solar PV, approximately 1.1 MW of battery storage and existing onsite generators.

“In our administration, we continue to focus on Puerto Rico’s energy transformation that promotes increased renewable energy generation,” said Governor Pedro Pierluisi. “I congratulate Eaton for continuing to invest in Puerto Rico and supporting this transformation with the building of a clean-energy microgrid that will provide them with energy resiliency, while also reducing their carbon footprint. This is the type of project that we are working to see replicated throughout the island.”

Eaton’s focus on sustainability at its Arecibo facility is part of the company’s broad initiative targeting a 50% reduction in carbon emissions across its operations by 2030. In Puerto Rico and around the world, Eaton is implementing energy-efficiency measures and optimizing renewable generation to accelerate a low-carbon future.

“Bold action on sustainability is vital, and the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Harold Jones, chief sustainability officer and executive vice president, Eaton Business System, Eaton. “We have ambitious goals to reduce carbon emissions both within our operations and for our customers. And you can see here in Puerto Rico, we’re finding creative and powerful solutions to make it happen.”

The microgrid is designed to withstand Category 5 strength hurricane-force winds and provides added value in normal grid-connected operations by generating renewable energy that can be consumed, stored and delivered back to the local grid to reduce stress on the island’s utility infrastructure. Eaton and Enel North America are initiating construction of a second microgrid at Eaton’s Las Piedras manufacturing facility to further strengthen energy resilience in Puerto Rico.

“With this project, Eaton is advancing its sustainable manufacturing operations in Arecibo and turns our municipality into one of the leaders on renewable energy in Puerto Rico,” said Carlos Ramírez Irizarry, mayor of Arecibo.

“As the impacts of climate change worsen, large energy users are stepping up to power their facilities sustainably,” said Matt Barnes, head of distributed energy solutions at Enel North America. “Enel is proud to partner with Eaton in building a future for manufacturing that reaches beyond facility walls to support energy resiliency for the broader community. The urgency to deploy microgrids—especially in regions with vulnerable electrical infrastructure—has never been greater, and Enel is delivering the clean and flexible systems that the energy transition requires.”

Enel North America built, owns and operates the system on behalf of Eaton. Enel North America financed the project under an energy-as-a-service model, shifting Eaton’s investment in the microgrid system from a capital to an operational expense. Eaton provided installation expertise and key technologies for the microgrid system.

"Eaton enters into Puerto Rico's electrical transformation as an important player with this milestone,” said Manuel Cidre, secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC). “Renewable energy is essential to the democratization of energy in Puerto Rico. Through an affordable, consistent and reliable electrical system, the territory of Puerto Rico positions itself as an attractive destination for doing business. We congratulate Eaton on this great step and thank them for their trust in the island.”

As Puerto Rico's transmission and distribution (T&D) operator, Luma has helped to connect more than 84,000 customers to net energy metering programs. "All of us at Luma are committed to building a cleaner, more reliable and resilient electric grid,” said Juan Saca, Luma's president and CEO. “We are proud to support customers like Eaton and Enel that are championing clean energy and energy efficiency and look forward to many more industrial customers following their lead."

Eaton’s Everything as a Grid approach to the energy transition helps customers to add more renewables and energy storage.