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$440M allocated to Puerto Rico’s vulnerable communities for rooftop solar, batteries

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a slate of solar companies and nonprofits selected to install rooftop solar and battery storage systems for vulnerable households in Puerto Rico through the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF).

The first tranche of PR-ERF funding, up to $440 million, will help lower energy bills for 30,000–40,000 single-family households in Puerto Rico, improve household energy resilience, and keep the lights on during extreme weather events, DOE officials said.

This funding will also support thousands of local clean energy jobs, help achieve President Biden’s goal of lowering energy costs for all Americans, as well as help Puerto Rico achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

DOE anticipates the first installations will begin in Spring 2024.

This announcement comes approximately one year after President Biden tasked U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm with forming DOE’s Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team — a locally led intergovernmental taskforce dedicated to rebuilding the region’s grid resilience and accelerating the deployment of infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable power to Puerto Ricans.

“With this announcement, we take a critical step forward in our efforts to ensure that all Puerto Rico residents have reliable electricity, especially the most vulnerable families and communities for whom a lack of power can be life or death,” said Granholm, who is in Puerto Rico this week. “Plain and simple, this investment will save lives, all while providing local, good-paying jobs and advancing Puerto Rico’s clean energy transition.”

This marks the first round of selections from the 2023 PR-ERF Funding Opportunity Announcement, which Secretary Granholm announced in Puerto Rico in July 2023. Eligible beneficiaries of the systems to be installed will include very low-income, single-family households that are either:

  • Located in areas that have a high percentage of very low-income households and experience frequent and prolonged power outages; or
  • Include a resident with an energy-dependent disability, such as an electric wheelchair user or individual who uses at-home dialysis machines.
  • Solar companies, nonprofits, and cooperatives selected for negotiations.

DOE selected three qualified solar companies — Generac Power Systems Inc., Sunnova Energy Corporation, and Sunrun Inc. — with an existing workforce in Puerto Rico as well as five qualified nonprofits and cooperatives across the region to begin award negotiations for a total of $440 million to deploy residential solar systems to vulnerable Puerto Rican households.

Barrio Eléctrico, Comunidad Solar Toro Negro Inc., Environmental Defense Fund, Let’s Share the Sun Foundation, and Solar United Neighbors Inc. will also enter award negotiations and may be awarded a total of $40 million across all five awards for residential solar installations, the agency stated.

Before the end of 2023, DOE will also announce selectees for the PR-ERF’s $3.85 million Solar Ambassador Prize as well as the remaining $10 million under the PR-ERF Funding Opportunity Announcement, which will support outreach, education, training, and consumer protection for qualified households.

Through the Solar Ambassador Prize, DOE will partner with up to 20 community organizations who will support DOE in identifying qualifying households and assisting them with the intake process for residential solar installations. 

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