On Monday, January 23, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a progress report from the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transition to 100% Renewable Study (PR100). The study is used to help inform investment decisions for Puerto Rico’s energy grid and aims to generate ways to meet Puerto Rico’s target of 100% renewable energy by 2050. The study also aims to bolster research to improve the power grid’s resilience against future disasters.
In their report, PR100 issued a series of key considerations taken from their work and research, which lay out recommendations for improvements to Puerto Rico’s electrical grid. Among the considerations are “grid upgrades and storage,” “grid modernization,” and “energy justice.”
Grid upgrades and storage includes transmission upgrades and more energy storage, while grid modernization includes upgraded grid measurement systems. According to the report, energy justice involves “prioritizing access to affordable, resilient electricity and high-quality energy sector jobs and economic opportunities for the most vulnerable utility customers, such as rural, remote, low-income, and people with disabilities.”
The DOE press release on the report states, “The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to helping states and territories reach their clean power targets to move the nation closer to achieving President Biden’s 2050 goal of a net-zero carbon economy.”
The PR100 team also outlined four potential avenues for Puerto Rico to meet its renewable energy targets. A few findings from PR100’s first year of study conclude that significantly more power generation is needed, smaller renewable resources spread across the power system could recover faster from damage, and alternative energy, such as community solar, could help Puerto Rico reach its renewable energy goals—while preserving protected areas and agricultural land.
In the same release, US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said, “For far too long, Puerto Ricans have lived with an outdated and expensive electric system where needless obstacles and long delays have prevented critical improvements. We know that access to renewable energy can help save lives”
Starting this year, Secretary Granholm will participate in a road tour of Puerto Rico to listen in on issues impacting Puerto Rico’s energy grid resilience. On the tour, Secretary Granholm will participate in personal engagements, town halls, and listening sessions, the DOE press release states. The goal of the DOE during the events is to “identify ways to address existing short-term hurdles that will help enable priority and urgent projects to break ground ahead of the next hurricane season.”