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Gov’t assigns $30M to second round of energy resiliency initiative for SMEs

The program guide for “Apoyo Energético 2.0” can be found at the Puerto Rico Department of Economic Development and Commerce’s website.

The administration of Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi announced the availability of $30 million under the “Apoyo Energético 2.0” (“Energy Support 2.0”) incentive program to provide energy resilience for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on the island.

The initiative, which is led by the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC, in Spanish) through its Energy Public Policy Program (PPPE, in Spanish), is directed at companies performing critical functions during natural disasters, identified as Community Lifelines by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), focusing particularly on areas with significant economic needs.

Funded through the Energy Reliability and Resilience Program (ER2) with Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the initiative aims to optimize Puerto Rico’s electrical system.

“In line with our public policy of promoting the use of renewable and clean energy, the ‘Energy Support 2.0’ incentive program will be available to boost the growth of our SMEs, one of the most important engines of our local economy,” Pierluisi said.

“This second round of incentives focuses on the three aspects of the initial program that benefits SMEs, achieves savings and promotes the growth of companies in this industry. In addition, this phase seeks to assist companies that carry out critical or first response duties during emergencies,” he emphasized.

For the program’s first funding cycle, $20 million was allocated to the DDEC from American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds to assist more than 800 SMEs in improving their energy efficiency and resilience, with more than 765 installations already completed, according to the governor.

The program operates on a peer-to-peer model, ensuring the installation and service provided comes from other SMEs. It consists of two initial phases: Phase I involves a registry of providers dealing in renewable energy system sales and installation. Providers may apply, and if they meet all the requirements and are approved, they will be listed in the Energy Support Provider Registry. Phase I is currently open, with a deadline for provider registration set for May 3.

Phase II, which will begin on June 17, will open applications for eligible SMEs that qualify for the incentive, covering up to 60% of project costs to a maximum of $50,000. Eligible projects may include installations such as photovoltaic systems with batteries, batteries for existing systems and charging stations for electric vehicles. Beneficiaries will have six months to utilize the incentive.

Applications will be assessed based on several criteria, including alignment with Community Lifelines, adherence to specific North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes, and the geographic location of the business.

“‘Energy Support 2.0’ will be an extraordinary opportunity for more small and medium-sized merchants to invest and receive incentives to modernize and temper their energy sources in their respective businesses,” said DDEC Secretary Manuel Cidre.

Jenny Mar Cañón-Feliciano, the PPPE’s interim director, added that “this incentive aims to alleviate energy costs of small and medium-sized businesses and facilitate the continuity of operations, through the integration of renewable energy systems with batteries and chargers for electric vehicles. This and other incentive programs available, such as the home Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), are of great help to the sectors that need it most.”

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