Ted Lieu, Jenniffer González-Colón, and Stacey Plaskett Team Up to Create Renewable Energy Grants for Territories
Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) has teamed up with Congresswomen Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR) and Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) to introduce 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. 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. The aftermath of the hurricanes showed that the islands’ electrical deficiencies were worsened by dated energy grids reliant on imported fossil fuels. Lieu said their bill 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,” said Lieu. The measure would create a grant program for investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, smart grids, and microgrids projects as well as training local residents. The grants would be awarded to nonprofit organizations and the Department of Energy’s National Laboratories may provide technical assistance. Plaskett said that while the geographic location of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico places the islands in the path of devastating storms, it also provides substantial sources of renewable energy. “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,” she added. Hurricane Maria caused more than 3.4 billion lost customer-hours, making the devastating storm three times larger than the next biggest blackout in U.S. history and one of the top three in global history. 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,” said González-Colón. More here.