In September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria caused most of the transmission and distribution system in Puerto Rico to collapse, leading to one of the longest blackouts in U.S. history and leaving residents in some parts of the territory without electricity for almost a year. Puerto Rico's communications, water and wastewater, transportation, healthcare, and critical manufacturing sectors similarly experienced severe disruptions—in most cases caused by electricity infrastructure damage or existing issues being exacerbated by the underlying instability of the grid. In 2019, the Puerto Rico legislature passed the Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act (Act 17), setting a goal for the commonwealth to meet 100% of its electricity needs with renewable energy by 2050, with interim targets of 40% by 2025, 60% by 2040, the phaseout of coal-fired generation by 2028, and a 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2040.
Yet, energy system recovery, efforts to increase resilience, and progress toward these targets have been slow. In September 2022, Hurricane Fiona again knocked out 100% of the grid for as long as four weeks in parts of Puerto Rico, highlighting the continuing need for grid modernization on the island. The storm's aftermath sparked a renewed commitment from the Biden Administration to accelerate upgrades to the island's electrical infrastructure, including the creation of the Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team.
Register for our online community to communicate with the project team and other stakeholders on the DOE initiatives to support energy resilience in Puerto Rico, including opportunities to engage in the PR100 Study.
Learn more about how to apply to GDO’s Funding Opportunity Announcement and Solar Ambassador Prize to support residential rooftop solar and battery storage installations for vulnerable households across Puerto Rico.
DOE Technical Assistance
Since the hurricanes in 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and six DOE national laboratories have provided Puerto Rico energy system stakeholders with tools, training, and modeling support to enable planning and operation of the electric system with greater resilience against further disruptions.
The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) role in Puerto Rico's energy recovery is to:
- Leverage its network of National Laboratories to supply advanced planning and modeling capabilities to stakeholders in Puerto Rico.
- Serve as a trusted unbiased convener and coordinator among relevant federal and local decision makers.
- Enable investment decisions to be driven by world-class data, modeling, and analysis.
- Ensure that funded recovery actions adhere to industry best practices, are coordinated across sectors, and align with energy public policy.
- Support the development of the next generation energy sector workforce in Puerto Rico.
On February 2, 2022, DOE joined the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to announce a new effort to accelerate work to strengthen the island’s grid resilience and advance new initiatives to enhance Puerto Rico’s energy future. The parties executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that enhances collaboration among Federal agencies and the Commonwealth.
PR100: The study will define pathways for Puerto Rico to reach its renewable energy goals (100% by 2050), ensure energy system resilience against extreme weather events, and improve energy justice. This multi-phased, integrated analysis includes eleven distinct tasks across six national laboratories.
A year one progress update was provided on January 23 with a public webinar. The Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team, led by Agustín Carbó, will draw from the PR100 findings to coordinate federal funding streams and overcome impediments to infrastructure deployment.
Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF): In December 2022, Congress approved $1 billion to improve the resilience of Puerto Rico’s electric grid, with a focus on the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged households and communities. On July 31, 2023, DOE announced up to $450 million in funding from the PR-ERF to increase residential rooftop solar PV and battery storage installations across the Island, with an emphasis on reaching and supporting Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable residents. Through this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), DOE aims to incentivize the installation of roughly 30,000–40,000 residential systems, as well as provide consumer protection and education to support long-term use of the systems. In addition, DOE is seeking community groups on the Island to support outreach efforts to qualifying households through the $3.5 million Solar Ambassador Prize.
Grid Resilience Formula Grant: On July 31, 2023, DOE announced that Puerto Rico will receive over $7.4 million through the Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants as part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by the Grid Deployment Office, this grant will help modernize Puerto Rico’s electric grid to reduce impacts of climate-driven extreme weather and natural disasters, improve power sector reliability, and enhance Puerto Rican communities’ access to affordable, reliable, clean electricity.
Technical Assistance in Developing FEMA Proposals: DOE provides technical assistance to the Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience (COR3),the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), and LUMA Energy (LUMA) in developing project applications for FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which is used to provide protection to undamaged parts of a facility or to prevent or reduce damages caused by future disasters. For example, DOE helped design a renewable microgrid for the island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra with input from community leaders. DOE has also conducted reviews by technical experts of project applications relating to floating solar, hydropower modernization, and ocean thermal energy conversion.
Technical Assistance to the Puerto Rico Department of Housing (PRDOH): DOE is providing technical assistance to PRDOH in the implementation of the Electrical Systems Enhancements Action Plan, consisting of $1.9 billion in funding from HUD for the Community Development Grant Program for Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR). The Action Plan consists of two main programs: the Energy Grid Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (ER1) Cost Share Program, and the Electrical Power Reliability and Resilience Program (ER-2). DOE’s support consists of helping align guidelines and criteria with global best practices, ensuring the program is addressing unmet recovery needs for vulnerable populations, and enabling discussions with decision makers such as PREPA, LUMA, and the utility regulator.
Supporting Transmission and Distribution Recovery Investment Decisions in Puerto Rico: The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) are working with local partners to evaluate candidate grid investments in transmission, distribution, and microgrids, with integrated analysis tailored to the problem of grid resilience planning across Puerto Rico. The objective is to reveal trade-offs between transmission-centric projects and distribution-centric projects.
RAPID Toolkit: Led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Regulatory and Permitting Information Desktop (RAPID) Toolkit will offer a solution to navigating the complex system of Puerto Rico specific regulations necessary to secure project approval. The RAPID Toolkit will provide stakeholders with easy access to federal and Puerto Rico permitting information, best practices, and reference material for renewable energy and bulk transmission project development.
Microgrid Design, Modeling, and Analysis: This task led by SNL supports PREPA, LUMA, and other stakeholders in better assessing the tradeoffs between microgrid cost, emissions, reliability, and duration of power delivery during an extended outage by leveraging SNL’s existing toolsets. The successful outcome of this project will be microgrid designs that enhance resiliency but also achieve blue-sky benefits and reduce renewable energy curtailment.
Clean Energy Innovator Fellowships: The Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team is participating in the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowships, a unique workforce development program that matches recent graduates and new energy professionals to key energy organizations to support efforts to advance clean energy solutions.
DOE and the six National Laboratories provide publications, tools, webinars, and other resources as part of their role to offer technical assistance to federal and local stakeholders. Explore these resources below.
PR100 One-Year Progress Summary Report, NREL Summary Report (2023)
Wind Energy Costs in Puerto Rico Through 2035, NREL Technical Report (2022)
Longform Presentation: Six-Month Progress Update: Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study (PR100), NREL Presentation (July 2022)
Quantifying the Solar Energy Resource for Puerto Rico, NREL Technical Report (2021)
Considerations for Distributed Energy Resource Integration in Puerto Rico, NREL Technical Report (2021)
Optimized Control of Distribution Switches to Balance a Low Cost Photovoltaic Microgrid, Sandia Conference Paper (2021)
Risk-Based Dynamic Contingency Analysis Applied to Puerto Rico Electric Infrastructure, PNNL Technical Report (2020)
Puerto Rico: Emerging Opportunities for Energy Efficiency and Equitable Clean Energy Development, 21st ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings (2020). To view this paper, select 'Table of Contents', then "Panel 9', then select the PDF icon under the paper title.
Interconnection Requirements for Renewable Generation and Energy Storage: Puerto Rico Example: Preprint, NREL Conference Paper (2019)
Puerto Rico Energy Planning Resources Workshop Report, NREL Technical Report (2019)
Solar Resource and Technical Potential Modeling, NREL Presentation (2019)
Workshop on Energy Planning Resources for Puerto Rico, NREL Presentation (2019)
Infrastructure Interdependency Assessment: Puerto Rico, DHS Assessment Report prepared by ANL (2018)
Analysis of Microgrid Locations Benefitting Community Resilience, Sandia Technical Report (2018) Energy Resilience for Puerto Rico, Sandia Presentation (2018)
DCAT (Dynamic Contingency Analysis Tool)—DCAT bridges gaps in cascading outage analysis in a single, unique tool that automatically simulates and analyzes cascading sequences in real systems. DCAT incorporates the complexity of the power system networks by leveraging and complementing industry-grade datasets and tools. (PNNL)
Distributed Energy Resources Customer Adoption Model (DER-CAM)—A decision support tool that primarily serves the purpose of finding optimal distributed energy resource (DER) investments in the context of either buildings or multi-energy microgrids. (LBNL)
EGRASS (Electrical Grid Resilience and Assessment System)—EGRASS visualizes storms and their effects on the Puerto Rican bulk electric power grid system, and derives sequences of damage and outages with associated probabilities to enter in power grid extreme event analysis tools like DCAT. EGRASS also provides initial recommendations for technologies to improve grid resiliency at the distribution level. (PNNL)
Engage™—A modeling tool that makes cross-sectoral energy system planning and simulation easier and more accessible. (NREL)
Interruption Cost Estimation (ICE) Calculator—The ICE calculator is a web-based tool that provides decision makers with information they need to analyze the economic costs of power interruptions. Based on more than 20 years of utility-sponsored surveys on the costs of power interruptions to customers. (LBNL)
National Solar Radiation Database—A collection of meteorological and solar irradiance data sets for the United States and a growing list of international locations. (NREL)
Pre-Storm Checklists for Solar Photovoltaic Systems—For PV systems to provide power following a disaster, the system itself must survive the catastrophic event. The pre-storm checklists were developed to help avoid or limit damage to a PV system and support local post-storm power. The pre-storm checklists provide owners and operators with guidance to perform a cursory inspection of their PV system. This resource includes separate checklists for distributed roof-mounted systems, distributed ground-mounted systems, and utility-scale ground-mounted systems, and is also available in Spanish. (NREL)
Puerto Rico Energy Efficiency Scenario Analysis Tool—An energy efficiency scenario analysis spreadsheet tool. (NREL)
Puerto Rico Demand Response Impact and Forecast Tool (PR-DRIFT)—Use this tool to estimate potential impacts to the load profile of demand response, energy efficiency, variable renewable energy, and storage adoption. NREL developed spreadsheet-based tool with customizable user inputs to help decision makers explore feasible future pathways to reduce territory-wide electricity peak consumption. (NREL)
Puerto Rico Infrastructure Interdependency Assessment (PRIIA) Dashboard—PRIIA is a network analysis tool that leverages service area modeling of critical infrastructure (e.g., electricity, communications, water, and wastewater) to screen for interdependent connections between different asset types and simulate potential propagations of cascading failures across those interdependent assets. The results can help stakeholders understand where single points of failure or disruptions highly-leveraged assets may scale up a crisis, and how prioritized response, recovery, and hazard mitigation investments and activities can reduce the cumulative impacts of future emergency events. (ANL)
PVWatts Calculator—A calculator that estimates the energy production and cost of energy of grid-connected PV energy systems throughout the world. Versión en español disponible en el enlace. (NREL)
REopt—A decision-support tool used to optimize energy systems for buildings, campuses, communities, and microgrids. (NREL)
SUPRA—A user-friendly Microsoft Excel-based pro-forma electric utility financial model that can be used to better assess an island utility’s opportunities to manage, mitigate, and/or improve its financial situation, and to quantify the financial impacts from pursuing changes to its regulatory and business model. (LBNL)
System Advisor Model—A free computer program that calculates a renewable energy system's hourly energy output over a single year, and the cost of energy for a renewable energy project over the life of the project. Includes mini-grid capabilities relevant to Puerto Rico systems, and Spanish-language resources Introducción a SAM (Modelo para Asesoría de Sistemas), Guía de introducción del SAM BORRADOR, and SAM template file. (NREL)
Puerto Rico Webinar Series: Energy Planning Tools (September 2019)
Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (fact sheet, February 2023)
DOE Selects First-Ever Director of Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team (DOE press release, November 2022)
DOE Launches Study To Consider Equitable Pathways To Power Puerto Rico With 100% Renewable Energy (NREL article, March 2022)
DOE, DHS, HUD Launch Joint Effort with Puerto Rico to Modernize Energy Grid (DOE press release, February 2022)
Argonne Impacts State by State: Puerto Rico (ANL article)
Modeling, monitoring and microgrids: ORNL provides help as Puerto Rico rebuilds (ORNL news release)
Power to the people: Solutions for a better Puerto Rico grid (ORNL blog post)
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (website)
Sandia Helps Puerto Rico Grid Resilience (Sandia article)
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