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Puerto Rico needs – and deserves – energy sustainability and resilience


For decades, Puerto Rico has dealt with very unstable energy generation and distribution systems, which are mostly dependent on fossil fuels. This places us in a difficult situation given our geographic location, which is prone to natural disturbances that are worsening due to the impact of climate change. Even with the weakest storms, our grid suffers, leaving our communities and our businesses without power.

After the 2017 hurricanes, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved a special allocation under the Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Energy Electrical Power Reliability and Resilience (ER2) Program to improve and expand Puerto Rico’s electrical system, said the secretary of Puerto Rico’s Housing Department, William Rodríguez-Rodríguez, the agency in charge of administering the CDBG-DR & MIT Funds on the island.

The $1.3 billion budget available in the ER2 Program is to be invested not only in the recovery of the electrical grid but also in addressing the reliability and resilience needs of the system. The intent is to target grid improvement/optimization projects with a proven impact on the overall electric power system and address islandwide unmet needs, Rodríguez said.

To drive this transition to clean energy sources, the public policy defined in the Puerto Rico Energy Public Law dictates that by 2025 – in about 14 months – the island must have reached a 40% renewable energy generation, with the goal of reaching 100% by 2050.

This shift to cleaner energy is informed by data and, above all, takes into consideration communities and key groups – experts, allies and others – who have contributed and are crucial in decision-making. All sectors and interest groups are represented in this process.

Rodríguez indicated that “we are now at the stage of identifying competitive projects, which are those focused on addressing urgent needs based on the National Criteria. During project evaluation, several priorities will be considered, among which are reliability, resilience, use of renewable sources, service to vulnerable populations, cost-effectiveness and others.” 

Awardees will be granted no less than $5 million per project, and eligible partners include members in different sectors (public, private and nonprofit).

The closing date for receiving proposals is Jan. 30, 2024.

These CDBG ER2 program funds allocated by the federal government allow us to dedicate resources to transform the country’s energy system and not only mitigate risks but also strengthen the grid to prevent damage that would delay Puerto Rico’s recovery and, consequently, our economic development. In other words, it is a transformation towards energy security.

Renewable energy is one of the most viable and promising solutions for us to achieve a sustainable future. Puerto Rico needs and deserves sustainability and resilience, and we will do everything in our power to achieve it.

For information and specifications on how to participate, submit project proposals and qualify for funding from the CDBG-DR ER2 program, click here.

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

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