U.S. DOE Announces Over $450 Million to Increase Access to Rooftop Solar Power for Puerto Rico Residents
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Funding is Part of a $1 Billion Effort to Deploy Solar and Battery Storage to Puerto Rico’s Most Vulnerable Residents, Helping Increase Resilience and Lower Energy Bills for up to 40,000 Households
The U.S. Department of Energy announced up to $453.5 million from the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF) aimed at increasing residential rooftop solar PV and battery storage installations across the region, with a focus to reach and support Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable residents. This round of funding will provide consumer protection and education initiatives to support residents’ long-term use of solar systems as well as a Solar Ambassador Prize for community groups to help the Department identify and connect with eligible households – helping achieve Puerto Rico and President Biden’s goal of lowering energy costs with a resilient grid powered by 100% renewable energy.
“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 Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF)
In December 2022, President Biden signed the Fiscal Year 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law, which included $1 billion to establish the PR-ERF to enhance energy resilience for Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable households and communities and help the Commonwealth meet its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2050. 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.
See related article: U.S. DOE Invests Over $23 Million to Reduce Carbon Emissions Across the United States
Today’s funding opportunity announcement, which is the first available through PR-ERF and totals $450 million is designed to incentivize the installation of up to 30,000–40,000 solar PV and battery storage systems for very low-income single-family households that are either:
- Located in areas that have a high percentage of very low-income households and experience frequent and prolonged power outages; or
- With a family member with an energy-dependent disability, such as electric wheelchair users or individuals who use at-home dialysis machines.
Potential applicants may include private industry, non-profit organizations, energy cooperatives, educational institutions, and State and local governmental entities. Funding will also support consumer protection efforts to provide residents receiving solar PV and battery storage installations with ongoing system education, training, and consumer protection support.
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 pm AT/ET. Visit the Grid Deployment Office website for more information on the contents of this FOA and how to apply.
Solar Ambassador Prize
In addition to the FOA, DOE is announcing the Solar Ambassador Prize, a competitive funding opportunity 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. DOE will award a total of $3.5 million to up to 20 community organizations in the region to perform outreach and engagement to vulnerable households across the region who qualify for residential solar PV and battery storage installations. Selected Solar Ambassador organizations will receive $15,000 in seed funding and additional compensation based on the number of beneficiaries enrolled in the program and verified by DOE.
Applications to become a Solar Ambassador Organization are due on September 25, 2023, at 5:00 pm AT/ET. 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.