DOE & FEMA Release One-Year Progress Report on Joint Effort to Modernize Puerto Rico’s Grid With 100% Clean Energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released a one-year status report for Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transition to 100% Renewable (PR100) Study. PR100, which launched in February 2022 with funding from FEMA, is a two-year study designed to help inform infrastructure investments that will provide Puerto Rico with clean, reliable and affordable power.

The study aims to generate community-driven pathways to meet Puerto Rico’s goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2050 and improve the resilience of the power system to future extreme weather events. The Biden-Harris administration remains committed to helping states and territories meet their clean energy goals to move the nation closer to achieving President Biden’s 2050 goal of a net-zero carbon economy.

“DOE is supporting Puerto Rico in making grid improvements that will deliver a better energy system that increases reliability and savings for its residents,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm. “For far too long, Puerto Ricans have lived with an outdated and expensive electrical system where unnecessary hurdles and long delays have prevented critical improvements. We know that access to renewable energy can help save lives, and I am proud of the DOE — and the FEMA teams working tirelessly to help put Puerto Rico on the path to a more resilient and reliable energy future.”

National Institute of Standards and Technology Hurricane Maria damage in Puerto Rico Visit Creator: Yuisa Rios Credit: Yuisa Rios Copyright: Public domain

“FEMA’s investment in the PR100 study reiterates our shared commitment to building resilient infrastructure and creating clean energy solutions for Puerto Ricans that will have long-lasting benefits for communities and generations to come,” said FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell. “Thanks to the partnership that the Department of Energy has with FEMA, we were able to evaluate and help fund the development of clean energy alternatives for rebuilding the electric grid to help Puerto Rico meet its renewable energy goals. This study is one of several strategies that FEMA is partnering with Puerto Rico to support the recovery of the energy grid through equitable, sustainable and resilient solutions.”

Since its launch, the PR100 team has defined four potential scenarios through which Puerto Rico can achieve its renewable energy goals. The team developed the scenarios after extensive engagement with various stakeholders who expressed interest in studying different levels and uses of distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar cells and batteries. In the last six months, the project team performed initial modeling and analysis of the feasibility and trade-offs of each scenario.

Preliminary results of the first year’s survey research and stakeholder input include:

  • The potential for renewable energy in Puerto Rico significantly exceeds the total energy demand now and until 2050.
  • Distributed energy resources and alternative system configurations (e.g., community solar, agrovoltaics) could ensure that Puerto Rico meets its renewable energy goals while preserving agricultural land and protected areas.
  • Significant additional production capacity is needed immediately to improve reliability.
  • Smaller renewable resources spread across the power system will be able to recover more quickly from disruptive events than the current system, which consists of fewer and larger power plants.
  • Prioritizing input from stakeholders and coordination between agencies is key to overcoming past challenges.

As dozens of new energy recovery projects move toward construction, the PR100 study helps DOE leverage the world-class expertise and advanced modeling capabilities of its national laboratories to ensure that funded energy recovery actions align with Puerto Rico’s energy policy and resiliency needs, are coordinated across sectors and adapt to industry best practices. Led by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the study connects local decision makers and communities with tools, training and analytical support to enable planning and operation of the Commonwealth’s electricity grid with greater resilience to disruptions as it moves toward its 100% renewable energy goal .

The two-year PR100 study relies on extensive input to ensure the project team provides effective and relevant technical assistance. DOE has convened an advisory group of nearly 100 people from 60 organizations representing the public, private and nonprofit sectors. In this way, the PR100 will reflect and respond to a breadth of stakeholder perspectives and priorities and will support progress toward energy justice for all Puerto Ricans.

DOE’s commitment to Puerto Rico’s reconstruction and recovery efforts

In October 2022, following the devastating Hurricane Fiona, President Biden announced the Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team, led by Agustín Carbó, the former chairman of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (now the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau), to work across the federal and local governments to identify and overcome barriers to rapid infrastructure deployment. These efforts are an outgrowth of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in February 2022 by the DOE, Departments of Homeland Security, FEMA, HUD and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to strengthen cooperation between the agencies.

Beginning in 2023, Secretary Granholm will participate in a tour of Puerto Rico to listen and learn about the issues affecting the island’s grid resiliency and recovery from local communities through in-person engagements, town halls, and listening sessions. During the events, DOE will seek to identify ways to address existing short-term obstacles that will help enable priority and urgent projects to break ground ahead of the next hurricane season.

An informational webinar on the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transition to 100% Renewable Energy (PR100) study will be held on January 23, 2023 from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM AST (11:00 AM to 12:15 PM). EST) for an update on the progress made during the first year of this two-year, stakeholder-informed study.

Leer en español

Article courtesy of Energy.Gov

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