REP LIEU LEADS BILL TO PROMOTE RENEWABLE ENERGY IN PUERTO RICO AND THE US VIRGIN ISLANDS

April 22, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, on Earth Day, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County), Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón (R-Puerto Rico), Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Congressman Darren Soto (D-FL) reintroduced 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:

“Our worsening climate crisis has exposed how vulnerable critical infrastructure is to dangerous natural disasters. We first introduced this bill following the impact of hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in 2017. We did so wanting to prevent the sort of months long electricity failures the islands experienced in the hurricanes’ aftermath. Beyond that, we wanted to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands become leaders in renewable, clean energy while ensuring their grids were fortified in the event of another hurricane or disaster. Now is a pivotal time for us to invest in our communities and our country’s future by creating clean jobs in renewable energy. Climate change is our world’s greatest threat, and it is one we should meet head-on.”

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 Renewable Energy for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Act tackles a critical issue facing our communities, especially after been affected by major disasters; an obsolete and inefficient electric infrastructure. The electrical supply for Puerto Rico must be resilient and reliable both in generation and in transmission and distribution and it must take advantage both of highly efficient central utility sources and of flexible distributed grids to enable communities to endure the effects of natural disasters and equipment failures. The support of the National Laboratories would be especially useful in the process of designing these alternatives; and the proposed grants would assist in developing the training to enable  members of the communities themselves to have a role in the installation and operation of local power grids and storage where they would be needed. We must take advantage and put to use all resources available to use and start building a more resilient, sustainable and economically viable energy future”

Upon introduction, Chairman Grijalva said:

“Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are on the front line of climate change impacts and already facing frequent intense tropical storms, sea level rise, and extreme temperature. Residents of the U.S. Territories  suffer from unequal access to essential federal programs, and it’s part of our Democratic mission to ensure these areas get the resources they need. Transitioning to renewable energy is the key to reduce fossil fuel pollution, prevent climate collapse and put our economy on a more sustainable path. I support this bill and am grateful for Rep. Lieu’s leadership on this issue.”

Upon introduction, Mr. Soto said:

“Our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have suffered through multiple devastating natural disasters, and they are desperately waiting for us to pave the path forward. We have a real opportunity to rebuild the islands by investing in electric infrastructure that prioritizes renewable energy sources, stands up against the effects of climate change, and puts us at the forefront of 21st Century innovation. I am proud to be a cosponsor of the bipartisan Renewable Energy for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Act and will continue fighting for long term, reliable solutions.”

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