In May, 2018, the San Juan-based Instituto de Competitividad y Sostenibilidad (ICSE) andRocky Mountain Institute(RMI) of Boulder, Colorado, worked together to convene leaders to design policy solutions to Puerto Rico’s ongoing energy challenge. Participants included Larry Seilhamer and Eduardo Bhatia, bi-partisan senators, as well as leaders from public, private, and civil sectors, including representatives from different mainland United States and Puerto Rico government departments, lawyers, academics, engineers, and community leaders. The initiative took place during what Senator Bhatia described as an “historic moment,” as organizations from across the island put learnings from Hurricane Maria into practice during the reconstruction process.
ICSE and RMI called on Reos Partners to help with the design and facilitation of the public collaborative. The initiative was a three-month process, which included face-to-face meetings of focused work time with participants, as well as a facilitated editing process of the final policy document.
“We converged on what the challenges are, as well as what is possible in energy policy. We also created an authentic team.” —Energy Collaborative Participant
Participants in the public collaborative posed many questions, including:
- What could an energy future that is more reliant on renewables look like?
- What will the role of fossil fuels be?
- How will we provide equitable access to energy for all residents of Puerto Rico?
- How will we ensure more resilience in the face of future natural disasters?
- How will we work with the tensions between an existing system and the desire to create new systems?
- How will we work with one another, when some of our disagreements date back more than three decades?
OUR APPROACH / IMPACT
ICSE, RMI, and Reos Partners set the scene for successful collaboration with the following design approach:
- Convening a diverse group of leaders, each with a strong stake in Puerto Rico’s energy future and differing perspectives about how to get there.
- Leading retreat-style workshops where leaders shared ideas, got to know one another more deeply, received immediate feedback on policy proposals, and, in turn, refined their thinking.
- Facilitating a collaborative editing process for the final policy.
As a result of the collaborative, participants produced a report of recommendations to policy makers, with four specific ideas on how to move forward with energy provision for the island.
- The promotion of an energy vision for Puerto Rico’s self-sufficiency and credibility.
- An independent regulator with enforcement powers.
- A modern regulatory framework and an integrated resource plan (IRP).
- The involvement of cooperatives and municipalities in the transition.
Read the full report here.
“The methodology invites active participation. We were invited to both express and listen to diverse opinions in an equitable way.”
“This process was very well-organized. Time was used efficiently. Differences were respected.”
“One of the highlights for me was personally getting to know certain participants who I previously considered adversaries.”
“I have made contacts that I already plan on collaborating with.”
“The process was inspiring. We talked. We listened. Through this, we reached agreements, and shifted from fighting each other to fighting for what we have in common.”