WATCH: AOC Proposes Shuttering Coal Plant That Provides 20% Of Puerto Rico’s Electricity
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2021/06/05: U. S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez seen at the rally where she endorsed progressive candidates in upcoming election for city wide offices in City Hall Park. All City Council candidates who took the "Courage to Change" pledge received endorsement by AOC. She also endorsed Brad Lander for City Comptroller and Jumaane Williams for City Public Advocate. Leaders from Citizens Action, Working Families Party (WFP), Sunrise Movement, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), DSA, and other partners joined AOC at the rally. AOC made her top choice for Mayor: Maya Wiley. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) suggested shuttering “tomorrow” the coal plant that produces one-fifth of Puerto Rico’s electricity.

During a Thursday hearing for the House Natural Resources Committee, the lawmaker expressed a 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 — provides 20% 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.”

Revealing his disappointment that Ocasio-Cortez would consider shutting down the coal plant, Epstein noted that only 2.5% 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 added: “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 noted that Ocasio-Cortez’s energy policies “would make Puerto Rico into truly a consistently third-world country.” 

The overwhelming majority of energy in Puerto Rico comes from oil, natural gas, and coal; as Epstein mentioned, only a tiny fraction comes from solar, wind, and other green sources.

In his extended testimony, Epstein elaborated that while poverty in Puerto Rico is rampant, energy continues to be extraordinarily costly:

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.

Abuela” — Ocasio-Cortez’s grandmother — lives in Arecibo, a town 40 miles west of San Juan.

The power source for Arecibo — and Abuela’s home — remains unclear. The Daily Wire reached out to Puerto Rico’s energy commission for further information; this article will be updated with any comments.

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