$400 million for solar energy in Puerto Rico
by Mark Moran
Washington DC (UPI) Nov 3, 2023
The U.S Department of Energy has made $440 million available to partner with solar companies and nonprofits to equip vulnerable households in Puerto Rico with rooftop solar and battery systems.
The first allocation of money through the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund is estimated to lower energy bills for between 30,000 and 40,000 low income, single-family households in Puerto Rico improve household energy resilience, and keep the lights on during extreme weather events, according to the Dept. of Energy. .
“This funding will also support thousands of local clean energy jobs, help achieve President Biden’s goal of lowering energy costs for all Americans, as well as help Puerto Rico achieve its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050,” said a statement from the Department of Energy. “DOE anticipates the first installations will begin in Spring 2024.”
The Biden administration touts the solar initiative as part of a $1 billion effort to create good-paying jobs and increase resilience for Puerto Rican households, many of which are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Maria in 2017, a storm that NOAA estimates caused $90 billion in damage to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands off Puerto Rico’s eastern shore.
Prior to Maria, the most damaging storm ever to strike Puerto Rico was Hurricane Georges in 1998 which caused about $5 billion in damage.
The solar installation program comes almost a year after President Biden assigned Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm to form the Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team, a locally led intergovernmental task force dedicated to rebuilding the region’s grid resilience and accelerating the deployment of infrastructure to deliver clean, reliable, and affordable power to Puerto Ricans, according to the agency.
“With this announcement, we take a critical step forward in our efforts to ensure that all Puerto Rico residents have reliable electricity, especially the most vulnerable families and communities for whom a lack of power can be life or death,” Granholm said in a statement. “Plain and simple, this investment will save lives, all while providing local, good-paying jobs and advancing Puerto Rico’s clean energy transition.”
Residents eligible for the program include low or very low income people who live in areas that experience frequent and prolonged power outages, rely on an electric wheelchair or in-home, electricity dependent medical equipment such a dialysis or breathing machine.
The Department of Energy selected established nonprofits and solar companies with existing workforces to distribute the money and install the solar panels, batteries and other necessary infrastructure.