Vía Verde (translation: "The Green Way") is a local Puerto Rican government initiative to lessen the island's dependence on petroleum, and to find a more environmentally sustainable energy source. To accomplish such a goal, the administration of Gov. Fortuño has been wholeheartedly pushing for the construction of a 91mile natural gas pipeline (el gasoducto), which would run from south to north of the island. In fact, the government is so keen to go forward with this project, that an estimated amount of savings is already included on the monthly electricity bill should el gasoducto be built. According to the Executive Director of the Puerto Rican Electric Power Authority (PREPA), Miguel Cordero, households will see a reduction of about 20% in their energy bills. Gov. Fortuño says the island is currently undergoing an "energy crisis" and the public should throw its support behind la Vía Verde.
The cost of electricity in Puerto Rico is, by some estimates, twice that of the mainland U.S'. This is a major achilles' heel to the local economy as it makes business' operating costs more expensive. An estimated 70% of the island's electricity comes from imported oil, and about 1% of the island's electricity comes from renewable energy resources, such as solar and wind. The Puerto Rican government acknowledges the need to diversify the island's energy portfolio, and it has pledged to increase the share of renewables to 12% by 2015 and 20% by 2035. Meanwhile, the construction of a gas pipeline seems to be the quickest way to appease household budgets and create jobs.
Much to Gov. Fortuno's chagrin, Vía Verde has been met with a massive opposition, especially amongst environmental groups and the communities in which the gas pipeline would be traversing. Such critics argue that the construction of el gasoducto will have a seriously negative environmental impact on the island's wildlife, flora and fauna. Furthermore, critics also point out that gas is just another type of fossil fuel. The fate of el gasoducto is on shaky ground, but most would agree that the island cannot continue to rely on imported foreign oil as its primary energy source.
(The image above was obtained from www.endi.com)