August 30, 2010, Washington, D.C. – Amidst seemingly endless negative news from the economic sector, Puerto Rico recently developed a project named “Via Verde,” which aims to provide a much-needed boost to the Puerto Rican economy. The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce supports the project, whose goal is to construct a natural gas pipeline to distribute an alternative form of energy production throughout the island, as a means to spur economic development.

Although some costs of living in Puerto Rico, such as housing and land costs, are lower than on the U.S. mainland, energy costs have risen to almost double the average U.S. household costs. One of the Governor’s and other legislators’ most important objectives has been to lower those costs and bring much-needed relief to a population who already has an average income lower than any U.S. state.

The “Via Verde” project will convert several coal-generated power plants to natural gas and will include the construction of a pipeline from Guayanillas to Arecibo and eventually to San Juan. Although costs for the project are expected to be greater than $350 million, the savings are expected to be much greater.

“The first phase, Costa Sur, would bring savings of $113 million to our citizens, by reducing energy costs by the end of this year,” claims Governor Fortuño. In addition, over 4000 jobs will be created, which, although only temporary, will give a short-term boost to an economy ravaged by unemployment numbers not experienced anywhere in the U.S. Upon completion, total savings to Puerto Ricans is expected to be over $1 billion.

Aside from the obvious job creation and energy cost savings, Puerto Rico will also benefit from a decreased dependency on foreign oil. With natural gas power expected to approach 72% of total production and oil dropping to only 12% by 2012, long-term environmental, security, and economic returns will be positive.

The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce is a non-profit advocacy group created to promote entrepreneurship, economic development, and economic freedom amongst Puerto Ricans and other minorities throughout the U.S. Feel free to contact the Chamber’s Public Relations Department at 866-572-5222, ext. 4 or via email: