DOE announces over $450 million for solar-plus-storage in Puerto Rico


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $453.5 million from the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF) aimed at increasing residential rooftop solar and battery storage installations across the region, with a focus on reaching and supporting Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable residents.

The $1 billion PR-ERF fund was established after recent hurricanes devastated the already inconsistent electric grid on the island of Puerto Rico. President Biden toured the island in October 2022 after Hurricane Fiona, and after seeing the destruction, committed to leveraging the technical support of federal agencies to support improvements to Puerto Rico’s electric grid. Then in December, the President signed the 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law, which includes $1 billion for the PR-ERF funding to drive key investments in renewable and resilient energy infrastructure in Puerto Rico.

The PR-ERF calls for at least two rounds of funding. The goal in the first round is to rapidly deploy residential rooftop solar and energy storage for vulnerable households and households that include individuals with disabilities. The second and possibly subsequent rounds may include energy resilience solutions like community solar, microgrids, and other grid modernization solutions as well as potential partnerships with local groups and workforce training.

The development of the PR-ERF has relied heavily on local collaboration and feedback, including a formal Request for Information (RFI) released in February 2023, as well as Secretary Granholm consistent engagement with residents and stakeholders in the region consisting of strategic meetings, townhalls, and community listening sessions.

In addition to deployment, the first round of funding of $435.5 million will provide consumer protection and education initiatives to support residents’ long-term use of solar systems. It also includes a Solar Ambassador Prize for community groups to identify and connect with eligible households.

“A future powered by renewables will offer the residents of Puerto Rico more energy security and more reliability—all while leaving households with cheaper bills to pay,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is using every tool at our disposal to expand access to clean energy, especially for the communities most at risk, giving families the peace of mind knowing that their communities are resilient in the face of the climate crisis.

The goal of this funding allocation is to incentivize the installation of from 30,000 to 40,000 solar and battery storage systems for very low-income single-family households that are either in a community that experiences frequent power outages or has family members with an energy-dependent disability. Funding will also provide residents receiving solar and battery storage installations with ongoing system education, training and consumer protection support.

Potential applicants include private industry, non-profit organizations, energy cooperatives, educational institutions, and state and local governmental entities.

The second round of funding for the PR-ERF will be announced at a later date.

PR-ERF FOA applications are due on September 18, 2023, at 5:00 p.m. AT/ET. Visit the Grid Deployment Office website for more information on the contents of this funding opportunity announcement and how to apply.

The Solar Ambassador Prize has a separate application process and deadline of September 25, 2023 by 5 p.m. AT/ET. This competitive funding opportunity will award $15,000 in seed funding for local organizations in Puerto Rico to identify qualifying households and help them enroll in DOE’s residential solar PV and battery storage installation program by spring 2024. The plan is to award a total of $3.5 million to up to 20 community organizations in the region. The winning ambassadors may receive additional compensation based on the number of beneficiaries enrolled in the program and verified by DOE.

DOE 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. Registration is required.

Click here to see the funding opportunities and application information.

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