The Puerto Rico Energy Affairs Administration has a $25 million budget to provide subsidies for eligible residential and commercial renewable energy projects, representing a 20 percent increase over the $20 million available for fiscal 2013, agency Executive Director José Maeso said Wednesday.
The agency is already taking applications for Tier II industrial projects, built to generate between 101 kilowatts and 1 megawatt of energy. The agency expects to assign about $4 million for projects chosen after the cycle closes Friday, he said.
And while it may seem as if the agency fell short in giving proper notice to companies looking to slash their power bills by installing renewable energy generation systems, Maeso noted “companies that interact with the EAA were alerted via email about the funding window ahead of time, so they could register and apply for funding before the July 5th deadline.”
This fiscal year, the EAA is looking to fund about 400 renewable energy projects, up from the 270 funded during fiscal 2013, both in the commercial and residential sectors. The latter falls under the agency’s Tier I funding category, reserved for projects built to generate between 1 and 100 kilowatts of energy. An application cycle for subsidies for those types of projects will open Aug. 1, Maeso said.
“Those rebates usually burn up in less than an hour, but we’re working on a way to be able to accept as many applications as we can in one day,” Maeso said.
Tier 1 rebates for each funding cycle are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis while Tier 2 rebates are awarded through a quarterly competitive process. In both cases, the agency reimburses project proponents 40 percent of the cost of the project, after it has been installed and inspected, Maeso said during a meeting with members of the media.
The Puerto Rico Green Energy Incentives Act of 2010 created the Green Energy Fund to increase green energy production and promote sustainability in Puerto Rico. Through the GEF, the government of Puerto Rico will co-invest up to $290 million in the development of renewable energy projects on the island. Starting July 1, 2011, $20 million will be allocated to the GEF; funding then escalates to $40 million by fiscal year 2020.
The EAA manages four programs: the State Energy Program that encourages efficiency, renewable energy and education projects to reduce power consumption in government; the Green Energy Fund; the Puerto Rico Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income families to achieve a reduction in domestic energy consumption by installing efficient equipment and measures in their homes; and the Energy Performance Contracting Program, which aims to renew and remodel government buildings with 100 percent private investment, to reduce energy consumption by at least 20 percent, reduce water usage and comply with building and access codes.
Impressive energy savings
During the first six months of this year, the EAA has granted incentives to 42 commercial and 123 residential projects. While the average savings for homes has been about $250, small businesses and large companies have saved an average of $1,000 to $14,500, respectively, Maeso said.
Meanwhile, Alberto Bacó, Secretary of Economic Development and Commerce, the EAA’s umbrella agency, said from the standpoint of economic development, adopting renewable energy systems presents several benefits.
“It generates wealth for the business. There are businesses that possibly would not have done expansions or would have even closed had it not been for these incentives that — through a reasonable investment — allow them to reduce their energy bills,” he said.
The secto also creates jobs, estimated at about 300 during the past six months alone.
“As more people understand the advantages of renewable energy, the more creative they will get. We’ve already seen some ideas for housing projects that integrate renewable energy systems, while others are working to approach homeowners associations to provide existing homes with equipment through a negotiated price,” he said.
“I don’t rule that we identify other funding sources given to the demand and acceptance there has been, and we’re looking for additional sources to feed the EAA,” Bacó noted.