Last week, President Joe Biden asked Congress to allocate $3 billion to the Department of Energy to fund rooftop solar and storage systems for Puerto Rico’s low-income communities and residents with health conditions. . The request will be part of a larger omnibus package.
In addition, the Biden administration is proposing an additional $35 million for the Department’s initiatives to provide technical assistance to local agencies and communities. While we applaud the administration’s steps to help Puerto Rico overhaul its energy grid, we urge the President and Congress to direct additional billions of dollars to allow for a full grid transition to distributed solar and storage. The experts who wrote the Queremos Sol report indicated that this is the most affordable and sustainable way forward.
Following President Biden’s announcement, Earthjustice and its partners, which include civil society groups based in Puerto Rico, issued the following statement:
“President Biden’s request to Congress to allocate disaster recovery funds for rooftop solar and storage in Puerto Rico is a step in the right direction. He should also require FEMA to use already allocated historic amount of funds for distributed renewables so that all low- and medium-income residents of Puerto Rico can access the life-saving resilience that rooftop solar and storage can provide,” Ruth Santiago, Earthjustice board member and White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council member, said.
“For too long, the people of Puerto Rico have been denied a reliable, stable, and sustainable energy source. Reports that President Biden will request $3 billion in a disaster supplemental for rooftop solar plus storage for low-income households and households with disabilities in Puerto Rico is welcome,” said Laura M. Esquivel, Hispanic Federation vice president for federal policy. “However, that request falls well short of the $5 billion requested by 38 members of Congress for that purpose. Much more is needed. Building a stable, decentralized energy system in Puerto Rico is not only about meeting climate goals – it is literally a matter of life and death. The Biden administration must also ensure that all federal funds allocated to Puerto Rico’s energy grid – including the largest given FEMA’s history – used to meet the island’s legislatively mandated goals – and not be used to invest in a continued reliance on polluting fossil fuels.”
“The President went to Puerto Rico to understand the situation on the ground, and he saw right away that a clean, decentralized grid was the only way forward. I’m glad that the Puerto Ricans delivered that message so effectively, and that the message is getting through. Three billion dollars is a good start, along with the $500 million that the Puerto Rico Department of Housing has committed to solar and battery storage on the roof, but Puerto Ricans deserve more,” said Raghu Murthy, deputy managing attorney for Earthjustice’s Clean Energy program.
“I want to recognize the great, tireless work of local groups like Queremos Sol and AERA to get the federal government to move in the right direction regarding energy reform. The people of Puerto Rico are urgently which requires an electrical system with distributed renewable energy through rooftop solar and storage, and said system must be a public response to energy protection as a human right. Puerto Rico more is needed and now is the time,” said Laura Arroyo, senior attorney at Earthjustice.