Serrano and González introduce bill to ensure funding to rebuild more efficient energy systems after disasters

by Nov 8, 2017Congress0 comments

United States Representative José E. Serrano (D) of New York and Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R, NPP) of Puerto Rico today introduced the Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act of 2017 that would allow Stafford Act disaster funding to be used to rebuild more resilient and efficient energy systems for major disaster or emergency-designated areas during 2017. This legislation would help states and territories affected by this year’s hurricane season such as Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to rebuild in a way that would save taxpayer money for years to come.

“This timely bill will help disaster-affected areas to rebuild a key infrastructure system looking towards the future, rather than being forced to rebuild to the past,” said Congressman José E. Serrano. “This legislation is a necessary modernizing tool that will allow states and localities to update critical energy systems and make them more resilient and efficient by providing them with necessary financial and technical assistance for such an endeavor. Puerto Rico has been criticized for having an outdated electrical grid and this is our opportunity to help them establish a better, more efficient replacement that would help the island face future hurricane seasons as well as save taxpayers money.”

“The Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act of 2017 is a win-win for everyone, said Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón. It helps the states and territories—including Puerto Rico—rebuild their energy systems in a smarter and more efficient manner, thereby preventing total power blackouts the next time a hurricane hits any of these areas, and ends up saving taxpayers’ money. The 3.4 million American citizens residing in Puerto Rico and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle want a better, more efficient energy system in the island. This bill provides us with the opportunity to do the right thing for our fellow Americans. Much has been said about the state of disarray of Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure before hurricanes Irma and Maria impacted the Island, but the fact is that, for the most part, this was a result of the budgetary and funding limitations and inequities imposed upon the territories.”

The Stafford Act ensures that Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) funding for disaster affected areas is able to be used to reconstruct energy systems to its pre-disaster state. The common-sense legislation introduced today fixes this problem by not only allowing the reconstruction of energy systems, but also making them resilient, efficient, and clean. It also directs the Department of Energy’s national labs to provide technical assistance to state, local, and private entities as well as to other federal agencies interested in developing plans to improve the reconstruction, resilience, and efficiency of their energy systems following a disaster. Additionally, the bill instructs FEMA to improve coordination with private entities seeking to donate energy storage technologies during a disaster.