The United States Department of Energy (DOE) announced it will invest $450 million to provide residential rooftop solar PVs and battery storage systems to nearly 40,000 low-income households across Puerto Rico.
The funding for the project is part of the $1 billion allocated in the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act for the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund, which supports enhancing energy resiliency for the island’s most vulnerable communities through 100% renewable energy.
Due to frequent, extreme heat waves and several natural disasters in recent years, such as Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017 and multiple earthquakes in 2020, Puerto Rico’s electric grid has degraded to a fragile state. According to the DOE, the island currently experiences rolling blackouts 570 times more frequently than the North American average.
The funding will support the Biden Administration’s pledge to help rebuild and restructure Puerto Rico’s grid through renewable energy and modernization efforts.
To receive funding support, applicants must be located in areas that experience frequent and prolonged outages and have a high percentage of low-income households, or applicants must have a family member that is energy-dependent disabled, such as those requiring the use of an electric wheelchair or an at-home dialysis machine. Residents who receive solar PV and battery storage systems will be provided with ongoing education, training, and consumer protection support.
The DOE will also award $3.5 million to nearly 20 community organizations in Puerto Rico that perform outreach and engagement with vulnerable residents who qualify for solar PV and battery storage installation. These Solar Ambassadors will receive $15,000 in seed funding, and additional compensation will be provided based on the number of DOE-verified residents they enroll in the program.