The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports resiliency and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico by supporting planning, operational activities, and capacity building for both local public entities and federal agencies, ensuring investment decisions are driven by world-class data, modeling, and analysis. In this newsletter, the Grid Deployment Office (GDO) shares the latest milestones, updates, and highlights on this work.

Program Highlights and Announcements

GDO Announces $450 Million from Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund to Increase Access to Rooftop Solar Power

On July 31, 2023GDO released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) through the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF) for up to $450 million to support residential rooftop solar and battery storage installations and offer consumer protection and education resources.  Through this deployment-focused funding, DOE aims to incentivize the installation of up to 30,000–40,000 residential solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems for very low-income single-family households that are either: 

  • Located in areas that have a high percentage of very low-income households and experience frequent and prolonged power outages; or
  • Have a family member with an energy-dependent disability, such as electric wheelchair users or individuals who use at-home dialysis machines. 

Potential applicants may include private industry, educational institutions, state and local governmental entities, non-profit organizations, and energy cooperatives. FOA applications are due on September 18, 2023, at 5:00 pm AT/ET. For any questions about this FOA, please contact GDO_FOA3096@netl.doe.gov

Learn more about the contents of this FOA and how to apply. At this stage, GDO is not accepting applications from individual homeowners for solar and battery installations.

Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund | GDO

GDO Now Accepting Solar Ambassador Prize Applications for Community Organizations in Puerto Rico

GDO also announced the launch of the Solar Ambassador Prizea competitive funding opportunity through the PR-ERF for local organizations in Puerto Rico to identify qualifying households and help them enroll in DOE’s residential solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage installation program by spring 2024. DOE will award a total of $3.5 million to up to 20 community organizations in the region to perform outreach and engagement to vulnerable households who qualify for residential rooftop solar and battery storage installations. Applications to become a Solar Ambassador are due on September 25, 2023, at 5:00 pm AT/ET.

GDO and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory will host a public bilingual informational webinar about the Solar Ambassador Prize on August 17, 2023, at 11:00 am AT/ET. Live captions and Spanish live interpretation will be available during this webinar. Click here to register for the webinar.

Learn more about the Solar Ambassador Prize and how to apply.

American Made | Grid Deployment Office Solar Ambassador Prize

Puerto Rico Receives over $7 Million through the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants

On July 31, 2023, GDO announced that Puerto Rico will receive over $7.4 million through the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants. Supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, this grant will help modernize Puerto Rico’s electric grid to reduce impacts of climate-driven extreme weather and natural disasters while also enhancing power sector reliability. This investment will improve Puerto Rican communities’ access to affordable, reliable, clean electricity while helping deliver on President Biden’s ambitious clean energy goals.

The government of Puerto Rico plans to use this funding to help disadvantaged communities to determine their energy needs; provide resilient, cost-effective electricity to rural and/or remote communities; and create jobs and training opportunities for residents within disadvantaged communities in Puerto Rico.

In Case You Missed It

Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm Continues Stakeholder Engagement and Strategic Meetings in Puerto Rico 

From July 31, 2023, through August 2, 2023, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm traveled to Puerto Rico as part of continued direct community engagement in support of the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to building back a stronger and more resilient electric grid for the island.

At an event on July 31, the Secretary was joined by Puerto Rico’s Governor Pedro Pierluisi, Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, along with senior leadership from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Agriculture, and local government entities to announce these important updates on the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund and share information on additional programs available for renewable energy deployment in Puerto Rico. The Secretary celebrated progress in advancing Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funded recovery projects, sharing that at the time of this announcement, 220 grid improvement projects were in FEMA’s pipeline, up from 83 in September.

Secretary Granholm speaks with community members in Arecibo.
Secretary Granholm speaks with community members in Arecibo.

Throughout the trip, the Secretary revisited communities in Salinas, Orocovis, Arecibo, and Loíza, and spoke with residents and organizations during townhall conversations organized in partnership with the Hispanic Federation of Puerto Rico. The community conversations focused on the PR-ERF Funding Opportunity Announcement and Solar Ambassador Prize, giving communities an opportunity to get firsthand information and ask questions. 

These engagement-driven discussions continue to provide critical local feedback that will help DOE deploy community-tailored solutions to address aging infrastructure and improve resilience for Puerto Rico’s electric grid.

Secretary Granholm during a townhall conversation in Loiza.
Secretary Granholm during a townhall conversation in Loiza.

DOE’s Loan Programs Office Announces Determination of Eligibility for Puerto Rico Projects Applying Under the Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) Program

DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) recently determined that solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery energy storage systems projects previously contracted under Tranche 1 and renewable energy projects, including solar PV and battery energy storage systems expected to be contracted in Tranches 2 and 3, are eligible to apply for financing under Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program of LPO’s Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) program.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is currently executing its Integrated Resource Plan to replace its fossil fuel generation assets with renewable energy and battery storage systems to meet Puerto Rico's renewable energy policy targets of 40% by 2025, 60% by 2040 and 100% by 2050. This plan consists of a series of consecutive Requests for Proposals (RFP), with each tranche seeking to procure a specific capacity target.  At present, PREPA has executed several agreements for eligible technologies under Tranche 1 of the Procurement Plan. The Tranche 2 RFP is in progress, and on July 18, 2023, Tranche 3 opened its bid process.

For more information, visit the EIR web page and review the full Title 17 Program Guidance. If you have a project that you believe may be eligible for financing through the EIR project category, you can request a no-cost pre-application consultation.

Salinas Community Organization Receives $150,000 for Grid Resilience Efforts

On June 1, 2023, DOE announced that the Asociación de Residentes de la Margarita Inc. in Salinas received a $150,000 cash prize through DOE’s inaugural American-Made Community Clean Energy Coalition Prize (CCEC). This community-based organization aims to provide at least 40% of their elderly and low-income residents with community solar for a more robust and resilient microgrid.

The CCEC Prize, in alignment with the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s American-Made Challenges, focused on justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, is a multiphase competition aimed at developing partnerships between organizations within communities to address energy and sustainability challenges. The prize is intended to encourage and recognize coalitions assisting underrepresented communities—which are not seeing the benefits of current climate and energy investments—to address local energy challenges, focusing on clean, renewable solutions.

The prize will conclude after Phase Three with a CCEC Prize Summit this fall, where competitors who will have the opportunity to present their progress, then network with other potential sponsors and philanthropic partners. All coalitions who complete satisfactory Phase Three submissions and event presentations will receive $25,000 to help execute their plans. Following presentations, EERE will award an additional $50,000, $25,000, and $10,000 at the summit to the first, second, and third place winners, respectively.

Secretary Granholm discusses energy resilience at La Margarita in Salinas last February.
Secretary Granholm discusses energy resilience at La Margarita in Salinas last February.

DOE Partners with Vieques and Culebra to Boost Resilience and Plan for Low-Cost Renewable Energy Systems

DOE’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) is an initiative to connect remote and island communities with national laboratory experts to address local energy challenges. On July 25, 2023, DOE announced that the islands of Vieques and Culebra will receive technical support to study the feasibility of achieving energy independence and resilience using rooftop and community solar power. The islands will work with ETIPP partners to conduct modeling and analysis to understand the full potential of decentralized solar when combined with utility-scale solutions.

Learn more about the EITPP.

DOE Awards Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize to the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña

In June, DOE announced the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña as one of six grand prize winners of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, an effort to foster a just and equitable clean energy future by investing in community-led innovation and entrepreneurship programs in areas historically underserved by federal funding. The winning teams in this first-of-its-kind competition will receive $250,000 each for their entrepreneurship, job-training, mentorship, and other solutions to expand clean energy and economic opportunities in underserved communities.

The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña is working to accelerate microgrid deployment in the rural communities of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Lares and Utuado by installing rooftop solar and storage systems, starting with businesses and community service centers.

Learn more about the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize

Energy Innovation Prize’s final event at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.
The six winning teams celebrate the end of the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize’s final event at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado.

Fact Sheet: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Steadfast in Support of Puerto Rico’s Renewal

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to supporting Puerto Rico’s recovery and renewal. In 2021, President Biden unlocked billions of dollars in disaster funding and enacted historic expansions of economic and healthcare assistance programs for Puerto Rico. Since then, the Biden-Harris Administration has built on these unprecedented investments to ensure Puerto Rico has a strong foundation for sustained growth.

Learn more about the White House’s Puerto Rico recovery efforts in this fact sheet released in June 2023.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Creates New Resilience Analysis Tool for Grid Recovery

DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) recently developed the Recovery Simulator and Analysis (RSA) tool, which simulates the time and effort needed for the grid to recover from severe damage, helping organizations in Puerto Rico better prepare for hurricanes.

In preliminary analysis, the Recovery Simulator and Analysis (RSA) tool ran simulations of 100 hurricane recoveries and found that smaller sized and more distributed future generation could cut the transmission recovery effort — work crew days — by approximately 25 percent. Identifying where load is recovered last, especially in a long recovery such as Hurricane Maria, may be helpful in determining where grid investments would be most beneficial for restoring power to critical services after a disaster. This tool directly supports the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study (PR100), a two-year effort by GDO and six national laboratories to comprehensively analyze stakeholder-driven pathways to help the government of Puerto Rico reach its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050.

Map of Puerto Rico Indicating Quantity of Recovered Load
Map of Puerto Rico indicating the quantity of load in each municipality that was recovered in the last 10 percent of system-wide load recovery across 100 hurricane scenarios. Darker reds indicate slower load recovery; lighter shades, quicker recovery.
Source: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Mobilize: Join Our New Online Community

Stay in touch by joining our online community – PR Energy Recovery and Resilience – on the Mobilize platform! Here, you can receive updates from DOE and the PR100 team, share information related to Puerto Rico’s energy transition, and connect with other stakeholders to implement the pathway to 100% renewable energy. Register here to join the community.