WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands) introduced the “Renewable Energy for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Act,” which will empower local communities to develop and use renewable energy sources. The bill creates a grant program for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, smart grids and micro grids projects as well as training local residents. The grants will be awarded to non-profit organizations and the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories may provide technical assistance.
Upon introduction, Mr. Lieu said:
“In 2017, Hurricanes Maria and Irma devastated local communities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and nearly 3,000 people died in Hurricane Maria alone. For months, residents suffered without electricity, and many still feel the impact of those disasters today. The aftermath of the hurricanes demonstrated that the islands’ electrical deficiencies were worsened by dated energy grids reliant on imported fossil fuels. Our bill not only assists in efforts to rebuild the islands’ electrical resources, it helps Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands shift towards renewable, clean energy. This change could help the islands become leaders in U.S. renewable energy efforts and would help fortify their energy grids in the event of another hurricane or natural disaster. As climate change continues to worsen natural disasters around the world, it’s becoming increasingly dire that we build a future using clean, renewable energy.”
Upon introduction, Ms. Plaskett said:
“The geographic location of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico places us in the path of devastating storms also provides substantial sources of renewable energy. The Renewable Energy for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Act, will not only help to restore the damaged energy infrastructure of the two territories but will invest in utilizing our natural energy resources. Adopting reliable renewable energy should be a priority across the nation and the world, but the need is far more crucial for areas such as the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico which will continue to be affected by storms that are increasing in strength and frequency. The islands’ natural beauty and climate generate significant revenue for the islands every year. Ensuring that we are doing our part in the fight against climate change is vital for our economies and for the preservation of the strong cultures of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands for generations to come.”
Upon introduction, Ms. González-Colón said:
“The 2017 hurricane season unveiled the precarious state of Puerto Rico’s energy system. It took close to a year to restore service to every citizen on the Island. Although progress has been made, our electrical grid remains dangerously fragile. Moreover, only 2% of our electricity is currently generated from renewables.
This bill puts us on the right path to address this and transform Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure by incentivizing the use of alternative, cleaner sources of energy on the Island. Specifically, it creates a new grant program for investments in renewables, energy efficiency, energy storage, smart grids and micro grids projects as well as training local residents.
These grants, along with continued federal support and local engagement, will be vital as we continue our important work to modernize and strengthen Puerto Rico’s energy infrastructure. “