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Puerto Rico gets another $7.4M from U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced that Puerto Rico will receive more than $7.4 million through the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants, on top of the $1 billion Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund announced in February.

Supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, this grant will help modernize Puerto Rico’s electric grid to mitigate the impacts of climate-driven extreme weather and natural disasters, while also enhancing power sector reliability.

This investment will improve Puerto Rican communities’ access to affordable, reliable, clean electricity while helping deliver on President Joe Biden’s clean energy goals, federal agency officials said.

“Access to reliable, affordable energy is akin to a basic right, and for too long Puerto Ricans have borne the burden of an unreliable grid,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm, who is visiting the island this week.

The government of Puerto Rico plans to use this funding to help disadvantaged communities to determine their energy needs; provide resilient, cost-effective electricity to rural and remote communities; and create jobs and training opportunities for residents within disadvantaged communities on the island.

In October 2022, the DOE announced the creation of the Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team to channel federal resources, technical assistance and additional support.

Last December, Biden signed the Fiscal 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law, which included $1 billion for the establishment of the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund to improve the island’s electric grid, with a focus on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged households and communities.

In January, the DOE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a one-year progress report for the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study (PR100) — a community-driven and locally tailored road map to help Puerto Rico meet its target of 100% renewable electricity, improve power sector resiliency and increase access to affordable renewable energy.

The DOE will publish a final report on the PR100 Study late this year.

USGPRFunding Opportunity event
On Monday, Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Pierluisi — flanked by Granholm — presented a broad breakdown of all the strategies that the local government is implementing, with the support of the Biden administration to transform the island’s energy system during the USGPRFunding Opportunity event at the Puerto Rico Convention Center.

“It’s important that everything that is being done is known, because one of the most important legacies that we will leave to the people of Puerto Rico is that of a modern, diversified and resilient energy system, and with energy generation based on renewable sources,” the governor said during the USGPRFunding Opportunity event.

Pierluisi said there are 133 electricity transmission and distribution projects to improve the energy system under construction valued at more than $2.5 billion. Among these, a new Energy Management System (EMS), a new allocation of federal funds for vegetation management, a new state-of-the-art net metering infrastructure, and modernization of large substations such as those of Sabana Llana, Monacillo and Guánica among others.

In the generation area, he mentioned the acquisition process of 11 new peaking units whose investment is approximately $600 million. In addition, 11 renewable energy projects and five storage projects at an industrial level that are part of Tranche 1, which are pending before the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico. In total, Tranche 1 includes 830 megawatts (MW) of generation and 350 MW for batteries.

As for the final evaluation projects for the award of Tranche 2, which will duplicate the proposal for Tranche 1, Pierluisi thanked Granholm for her support so that the DOE’s Loan Program Office qualified these projects, which will help finance and expedite their start.

“The goal is for these projects to be operational before the end of 2025 and help us achieve what is established in Act 17 of 2019, that is, that 40% of the energy that we’re generating comes from renewable sources. In fact, the Ciro de Salinas project is already under construction to produce 90 MW and the already operational renewable energy projects are producing 222 MW,” Pierluisi said.

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau published announcements to contract an additional 1,000 MW of renewable energy and an additional 500 MW of storage, under Tranche 3.

Regarding the $1.3 billion from the Energy Reliability and Resilience Program (ER-2) of the Development and Economic Revitalization of Post-Disaster Communities (Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery, or CDBG-DR) funds, the governor said a competitive process for grant applications for microgrids and cogeneration projects will get underway soon.

In addition, proposals for the microgrid of the Río Piedras Medical Center are being evaluated and, with the support of the DOE, the pre-design of the microgrids of Vieques and Culebra is being worked on.

On the issue of distributed energy, there are already more than 86,300 private solar systems interconnected to the electrical grid and 9,000 residences will benefit from the energy resilience program funded with CDBG-DR allocations.

Similarly, and with the distribution of $500 million in funds from the Community Development Block Grant – Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) program, more than 24,000 residences with solar energy systems will be reached, the governor added.

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

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