U.S. DOE, FEMA release progress report on Puerto Rico’s energy grid modernization

Published on January 25, 2023 by Liz Carey

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On Monday, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a progress report on Puerto Rico’s move to modernize its energy grid and provide the island with clean, reliable, and affordable power.

The report, Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transition to 100% Renewable (PR100) Study, looks to generate pathways for Puerto Rico to meet its target of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2050 and improve its power system’s resiliency against future extreme weather events.

“DOE is supporting Puerto Rico in executing grid improvements that will deliver a better energy system that boosts reliability and savings for its residents,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “For far too long, Puerto Ricans have lived with an outdated and expensive electric system where needless obstacles and long delays have prevented critical improvements.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 FEMA teams that are working tirelessly to help put Puerto Rico on a path to a more resilient and reliable energy future.”

Since the launch of PR100 in February 2020, officials have defined four scenarios for Puerto Rico to meet its renewable energy targets and develop with the engagement of stakeholders who expressed interest in various levels and applications of distributed energy resource deployments. Preliminary findings, after six months of modeling and analysis, found that renewable energy potential in Puerto Rico significantly exceeds demand and that distributed energy resources and alternative system configurations (e.g., community solar, agrovoltaics) could ensure Puerto Rico meets renewable energy targets while preserving agricultural land and protected areas.

The study found that significant additional generation capacity is needed immediately to improve reliability. The report found that building smaller renewable resources spread across the power system could recover from disruptive events like hurricanes faster than the current system. However, the report found that the key to overcoming past challenges was prioritizing stakeholder input and interagency coordination.

“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 to communities and generations to come,” FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said. “Thanks to the partnership the Department of Energy has with FEMA, we were able to evaluate and help fund the development of clean energy alternatives for the reconstruction of the power grid to help Puerto Rico meet its renewable energy targets. This study is one of several strategies that FEMA is collaborating with Puerto Rico on to support the recovery of the energy grid through equitable, sustainable, and resilient solutions.”