The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) supports resiliency and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico by augmenting 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. Every quarter, DOE compiles the latest milestones, updates, and highlights in this virtual newsletter.

In Case You Missed It...

DOE Launched PR100 Study to Consider Equitable Pathways to Power Puerto Rico with 100% Renewable Energy

Earlier this year, DOE launched the Puerto Rico 100% Renewable Energy and Resilience Study (PR100) to bring stakeholders and decision makers together with the world-class capabilities of six National Laboratories to evaluate scenarios and investments needed to achieve Puerto Rico’s goal of 100% renewable generation by 2050. 

DOE, Departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development Launched Joint Effort with Puerto Rico to Modernize Energy Grid

DOE joined the Departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development, and the Government of Puerto Rico to further the Biden-Harris Administration's 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 that enhances collaboration among federal agencies and local government.

Program Highlights and Announcements 

DOE Partnered with Census on The Opportunity Project to Build Tools that Help Close Data Gaps in Puerto Rico

The Opportunity Project (TOP), a program led by the U.S. Census Bureau, has selected six new problem statements that use federal open data to tackle pressing national challenges, which include (i) Building Community and Individual Climate Resilience, (ii) Developing Community-Informed National-Level Indicators of Well-Being, (iii) Helping Communities Access Infrastructure Grant Funding, (iv) Enhancing Children’s Resilience to Adversity in Puerto Rico, (v) Supporting Island Communities’ Transition to Renewable Energy, and (vi) Transforming Local Addressing Systems in Puerto Rico. 

DOE, the National Renewable Energy Lab, and the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau will team up to help Puerto Rico transition to a resilient grid powered with 100% renewable energy by creating digital tools that use federal open data to assist city planners, energy solutions developers, and local leaders to achieve their communities’ renewable energy goals. Visit the problem statement page for more information. 

Strengthening Solar Photovoltaic Systems Ahead of Hurricane Season

Experts at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory compiled a storm-ready checklist to help Puerto Rico, and other communities vulnerable to hurricanes, prepare for storms. The resource comes as many vulnerable communities prepare for the potential impacts of hurricane season. These checklists are intended for those who own or operate solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, with the overall goal of increasing the endurance of solar PV systems during a storm which can increase the amount of power available to users immediately after the storm.
Designed with stakeholder input, the resource includes separate checklists for utility-scale ground-mounted systems, distributed ground-mounted systems, and distributed rooftop systems. The checklists are available both in English and Spanish.

Puerto Rico Communities Will Partner with DOE Experts, National Labs, and Regional Organizations to Accelerate Access to Clean Power, Help Lower Energy Costs, and Increase Resilience 

On June 14, DOE announced it will work with 12 competitively selected remote and island communities around the United States to help strengthen their energy infrastructure, reduce the risk of outages, and improve their future energy and economic outlook. Through the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP), DOE and its national and regional partners will support projects in communities that, due to their geographic isolation, often face high energy costs and vulnerable energy infrastructure. Watch this video to learn more about the ETIPP program.  

Among the selected entities is the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña from Utuado, Puerto Rico, an electric cooperative committed to delivering affordable, resilient energy for residents across four remote, inland mountain communities. The cooperative will employ ETIPP assistance to refine their plans to develop the first intermunicipal microgrid in Puerto Rico combining hydroelectric plant generation and photovoltaic systems to power new 38-kilovolt power lines between the towns of Adjuntas, Jayuya, Lares, and Utuado. 

DOE Selected Puerto Rico Entity to Receive Cash Award to Implement Strategies Prioritizing Climate Solutions for Underrepresented Communities

On May 24, 2022, DOE selected Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña from Utuado, Puerto Rico, in partnership with Fundación Borincana and Pecan Street, to receive support and technical assistance to empower rural villages in the interior mountains of Puerto Rico to take control of their clean-energy future by installing rooftop solar and storage systems.

DOE awarded a total of $3.6 million to 18 groups and organizations through the Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize, a first-of-its-kind competition designed to support entrepreneurship and innovation in communities historically underserved in federal climate and energy technology funding. The selected projects are helping develop the next wave of diverse, clean energy business owners, executives, and workforce that are creating bottom-up solutions for sustainable development. The Inclusive Energy Innovation Prize supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 initiative to put environmental and economic justice at the center of America’s transition to a net-zero economy by 2050. 

DOE Secretary Granholm and Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi Discussed Status of the Island’s Energy Recovery Efforts

On June 1, 2022, Secretary Granholm and Governor Pierluisi met to discuss the Island’s DOE-supported energy recovery efforts and to reaffirm DOE’s commitment to support Puerto Rico in the development of its long-term energy sector recovery and modernization plan. They also discussed updates on the PR100 Study and the implementation of recovery projects stemming from more than $12 billion in disaster relief authorized by the federal government for the reconstruction of the island’s electric grid following Hurricanes Irma and Maria of 2017.

DOE Leadership Participated in PRNow Summit in San Juan, Puerto Rico

On June 6 and 7, 2022, the Government of Puerto Rico hosted PRNOW, an event that brought together financial experts, government officials and inside-track speakers to discuss the largest municipal department restructuring in U.S. history and the incredible, sustainable opportunities it opens for Puerto Rico. 

DOE Office of Electricity’s (OE’s) Deputy Assistant Secretary for Advanced Grid Controls, Michael Pesin, moderated a panel consisting of leaders from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, LUMA Energy, and the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau. The panel discussed the state of the energy infrastructure in Puerto Rico, including progress to date, provided their views into the future of the energy sector on the Island, and commented on the alignment of next steps and responsibilities to ensure the immediate and long-term success of the energy sector.

DOE Participated in the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Annual Educational Conference 2022 in San Juan, Puerto Rico

On June 14, 2022, DOE held a panel on the Opportunities of Technical Assistance during the Southeastern Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ (SEARUC) Annual Educational Conference. OE’s Program Manager Joseph Paladino, along with DOE’s Puerto Rico Energy Recovery Coordinator, Marisol Bonnet, joined the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau Associate Commissioner Lillian Mateo-Santos to provide information about technical assistance, support, and mentoring available from DOE and its National Labs.

Local Experts Joined the PR100 Study Team!

Hispanic Federation of Puerto Rico joined the PR100 Study team as an official partner. The knowledge and expertise of the Hispanic Federation’s Puerto Rico chapter will be leveraged to enhance stakeholder engagement and outreach activities, ensuring the study reflects local priorities, needs, and perspectives. 

Hispanic Federation of Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization focused on advancing the interests and aspirations of Puerto Ricans through coalition-building, policy research, and public education. 

Join Our New Online Community 

NREL recently launched a new online community – PR Energy Recovery and Resilience – on the Mobilize platform to provide a place where the public can receive updates from DOE and the multi-lab project team, share information related to Puerto Rico’s energy transition, and connect with each other to implement the pathway to 100% renewable energy. Register here to join the community.

Upcoming Events

PR100 Six-Month Progress Update

Join the PR100 webinar on July 21, 2022, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. ET to learn more about the progress made on this stakeholder-informed study. The PR100 study led by DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will generate pathways to achieving clean, affordable, and reliable electricity for all residents of Puerto Rico, which committed to meeting its electricity needs with 100% renewable energy by 2050. With funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through an interagency agreement with OE, PR100 is founded on community engagement and energy justice while leveraging the world-class expertise and best infrastructure modeling capabilities of DOE National Laboratories.