U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter signed by 47 members of Congress to President Trump’s Administration requesting the disbursement of funds, which were already appropriated, to improve and build a more resilient electric grid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
After more than two years since Hurricane María devastated the electric infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the USVI, and more than a year after Congress passed the Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has failed to disburse the already appropriated $2 billion Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds meant to enhance the electrical power systems in damaged areas, they said.
“We urge the immediate publication of the Federal Register Notice detailing the administrative requirements for the disbursement of the $2 billion in CDBG-DR HUD funding,” the U.S. lawmakers said in the letter.
“We must strive to enable the prosperity of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by providing renewable, affordable, resilient, and reliable power,” they said.
On April 11, 2019, Gov. Ricardo Rosselló signed S.B. 1121, Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, into law, to transition Puerto Rico’s energy generation to 100% renewable energy by 2050.
Through the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority, Puerto Rico is striving to use $900 million of its appropriated CDBG-DR HUD funding to rebuild the grid with a focus on the generation and distribution of renewable power.
“With the current high cost and unpredictability of power generation and distribution on the islands, the disbursement of the $2 billion in CDBG-DR HUD funding is essential to meet the goals of the Puerto Rico and USVI governments to alleviate power grid burdens,” the lawmakers said in the letter.