The United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) Grid Deployment Office (GDO) recently released a Request for Information (RFI) to gather feedback from stakeholders in Puerto Rico on how to allocate $1 billion managed through the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF). After recent natural disasters and decades of underinvestment in the electric grid, this fund will be developed in consultation with local entities and communities to increase energy resilience and reduce the energy burden of vulnerable residents. This historic investment aligns with Puerto Rico’s public energy policy to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 as well as the Biden Administration’s commitment to improving the islands’ energy system.
“For far too long, Puerto Ricans have endured an unreliable and expensive electric system with frequent blackouts due to catastrophic weather events and aging infrastructure,” said Agustín F. Carbó, Director of the Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team. “This historic investment will be transformative for many Puerto Rican families, keeping the lights on through power outages, providing peace of mind during hurricane season, and saving them more money and reducing high electric bills with these clean energy solutions.”
After Hurricane Fiona, in October 2022, President Joe Biden (D) visited the islands and committed to leveraging the technical support of Federal agencies to support improvements to Puerto Rico’s electric grid. Last December, President Biden signed the FY 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law, which included $1 billion for the establishment of the PR-ERF to drive key investments in renewable and resilient energy infrastructure in Puerto Rico. The PR-ERF will be managed by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office (GDO) in consultation with the Federal Energy Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
DOE is requesting information from Puerto Rican stakeholders about both short- and long-term energy solutions, including residential rooftop solar deployment, community, and critical service energy resilience, partnerships with non-profit organizations, and workforce training to sustain Puerto Rico’s clean energy economy. The development of the PR-ERF will heavily rely on local collaboration and will align with community priorities for improving energy resiliency in Puerto Rico.
DOE currently plans for at least two rounds of funding for the PR ERF. The first round will rapidly deploy residential rooftop solar and storage for vulnerable households and households that include individuals with disabilities. The subsequent round of investments may include energy resilience solutions like community solar, microgrids, and other grid modernization solutions, as well as potential partnerships with local groups and workforce training.
Feedback collected through this RFI may inform the implementation strategy for the PR-ERF, including identifying priority energy technologies and solutions, eligibility, funding structure, and timing. DOE is working to fast-track this program and expects funding to be allocated as soon as the end of the calendar year 2023. Request for Information comments and input must be received by 5:00 pm ET on April 21, 2023, and can be submitted by email.