SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today concluded a five-day visit to Puerto Rico. Throughout the trip, the Secretary met with community members across Puerto Rico’s western and central regions to provide updates on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ongoing work to rebuild and modernize the grid with clean, reliable, and resilient power sources. Using workforce and labor training as a mechanism to help sustain clean energy resources was a key theme for the trip and propelled the Secretary’s conversations with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Associated General Contractors of America and students of LUMA College.
The visit marked the Secretary’s fourth visit to Puerto Rico, the second scheduled for 2023, and continued the PR100 Community Engagement Tour – a series of townhall-style where residents and community members can speak directly with the Secretary about their comments and suggestions for the PR100 study. The study, which launched in February 2022 with funding from FEMA, analyzes pathways to help the island meet its ambitious policy goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2050.
Secretary Granholm announced that this year’s Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship will include up to six slots for recent graduates and energy professionals from Puerto Rico. The program sends fellows to key energy organizations to support their efforts to advance clean energy solutions. Applications for host organizations are now open with applications for fellows opening on May 22, 2023.
Throughout this visit, the Secretary traveled to Orocovis, Adjuntas, Yauco, and Mayagüez where she met with residents, community organizations, and student researchers at the University of Puerto Rico that highlighted the challenges residents face regarding power generation and discussed potential solutions to strengthening energy resilience on the island through accessible clean energy technologies. Secretary Granholm also toured a community in Castañer that utilizes solar power through a microgrid and participated in an energy and agriculture roundtable in Ponce. The Secretary visited a community solar installation in Isabela before participating in consecutive roundtables in San Juan focusing on securing resilient energy generation for residents with disabilities and ensuring that workforce and labor needs are top of mind as communities transition to cleaner energy sources.
During each stop, Secretary Granholm discussed the next steps for allocating the $1 billion Puerto Rico Grid Resilience Fund, which was authorized by President Biden in December 2022 and is administered through the DOE’s Puerto Rico Grid Recovery and Modernization Team. These engagement-driven discussions provide critical local feedback that will help DOE develop and implement community-tailored solutions to address aging infrastructure and improve resilience for Puerto Rico’s electric grid. In Summer 2023, DOE will open a Request for Proposals for public, non-profit, and private sector entities and organizations for the first round aimed at the rapid deployment of residential rooftop solar and storage for vulnerable households and households that include individuals with disabilities.