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DOE allocates $13M for more solar, battery storage in Puerto Rico

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a slate of community groups and nonprofits selected to receive up to $13.85 million to aid vulnerable households in Puerto Rico with residential solar and battery storage installations, along with providing education and consumer protection services.

Funded by the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF), the initiative will support the DOE’s effort to deploy solar and battery storage systems in up to 40,000 single-family households on the island.

The PR-ERF will improve energy resilience in vulnerable households, support President Biden’s goal of reducing energy costs and assist Puerto Rico achieve its target of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

“For Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable residents, a power outage can be a matter of life or death,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The success of the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund depends on community trust and engagement, and our DOE team is excited to work with a committed network of local organizations that know the critical needs of their neighbors best.” 

The DOE expects to begin outreach to eligible households in early 2024, with the first installations to begin in spring, the agency stated.

This announcement marks the second round of selections from the 2023 PR-ERF Funding Opportunity Announcement, which Granholm announced in Puerto Rico in July.

Nonprofits selected for education, training and consumer protection efforts
To help ensure the vulnerable households can best use their solar and battery systems and access their consumer rights in Puerto Rico, the DOE selected Hispanic Federation Inc. and the Institute for Building Technology and Safety for education, training and consumer protection initiatives. Pending successful negotiations, these organizations are slated to receive up to $10 million total from the PR-ERF Funding Opportunity Announcement. 

Solar Ambassador Prize
The DOE also announced 16 community organizations in Puerto Rico as selectees for the PR-ERF’s $3.85 million Solar Ambassador Prize. Solar Ambassadors will assist the department in identifying and assisting qualifying households for solar panel and battery storage installations.

The chosen organizations are:

  • Alianza de Médicos Al Rescate Inc.
  • Borincana Foundation Inc.
  • Cáritas de Puerto Rico Inc.
  • Centro de Microempresas y Tecnologías Agrícolas Sustentables Yauco Inc. (CMTAS)
  • Centro Madre Teresa de Calcuta Inc.
  • Centros Sor Isolina Ferré
  • Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña
  • Corporación Desarrollo Económico Vivienda y Salud (CODEVyS) Inc.
  • Grupo Resiliente del Oeste/ Sunrise Solar & Consulting LLC
  • Movimiento para el Alcance de Vida Independiente (MAVI)
  • Pathstone Corporation
  • Por Los Nuestros Inc.
  • Productores de Café de Puerto Rico Inc. (PROCAFE)
  • Programa de Apoyo y Enlace Comunitario Inc.
  • The Saint Bernard Project Inc.
  • ViequesLove

In December 2022, Biden signed the fiscal year 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act, which included $1 billion to establish the PR-ERF to improve energy resilience for Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable households and communities and help the Commonwealth meet its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

The PR-ERF’s development has relied heavily on local collaboration and feedback, including Granholm’s engagement with residents and stakeholders in the region through strategic meetings, town halls and community listening sessions. 

The first tranche of PR-ERF funding prioritizes very low-income, single-family households that are either: 

  • Located in areas with a high percentage of very low-income households and experiencing frequent and prolonged power outages; or 
  • Include a resident with an energy-dependent disability, such as an electric wheelchair user or an individual who uses an at-home dialysis machine. 

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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