On February 21, 2023, the Grid Deployment Office launched the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF) to support Puerto Rico’s grid resilience efforts and achieve the goal for the commonwealth to meet 100% of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2050. After recent natural disasters and decades of underinvestment in the electric grid, this fund is being developed in consultation with local entities and communities to increase energy resilience and reduce the energy burden of vulnerable residents. The PR-ERF is 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).
Background on the PR-ERF
After Hurricane Fiona in October 2022, President Biden visited the island 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. On February 21, 2023, the Grid Deployment Office officially launched the fund.
First Round Funding Opportunity Announcement
On July 31, 2023, GDO released a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for up to $450 million to support residential rooftop solar and battery storage installations and offer consumer protection and education resources. Potential applicants may include private industry, educational institutions, state and local governmental entities, non-profit organizations, and energy cooperatives. Through this deployment-focused funding, DOE aims to incentivize the installation of roughly 30,000–40,000 residential solar and battery systems. Qualified beneficiaries of the systems installed by selected partners will include 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 contain a family member with an energy-dependent disability, such as individuals who need electric wheelchairs for mobility or those that use at-home dialysis machines.
The deadline to apply to this FOA was September 18, 2023 at 5:00 PM AT/ET.
Solar Ambassador Prize
To ensure that applicants selected via the PR-ERF FOA can quickly deploy installations where they are most needed, the Solar Ambassador Prize is a complementary competitive funding opportunity for organizations in Puerto Rico to assist DOE in identifying, engaging, and assisting with intake processing of qualifying households for solar PV and battery storage inspections. Through the prize, DOE will award a total of $3.85 million to up to 20 community-based organizations, nonprofits, and for-profit entities with an existing presence in Puerto Rico to assist in this work.
Applications to become a Solar Ambassador are due October 10, 2023 at 5 PM AT/ET.
Puerto Rican Stakeholder Engagement is Vital
The development of the PR-ERF has relied heavily on local collaboration and centers community priorities for improving energy resiliency in Puerto Rico. On February 21, 2023, DOE issued a Request for Information (RFI) to collect feedback 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. Comments are being used to inform the implementation strategy for the PR-ERF, including identifying priority energy technologies and solutions, eligibility, funding structure, and timing.