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International

Puerto Rico Clean Energy Project Launches First Five Initiatives on Anniversary of Hurricane Maria

New York, NY – September 25, 2020

The Community Energy Resilience Fund, an ongoing coalition between The Rockefeller Foundation, Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Resilient Power Puerto Rico (RPPR), Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico (FCPR) and other partners, will blend finance resources into a fund to scale clean energy solutions to hundreds of critical facilities on the island.

Critical facilities are defined as schools, hospitals, fire stations and similar facilities that in times of disaster must be well-equipped with a reliable power supply to provide services to citizens. Ensuring these facilities and communities have the infrastructure to withstand future extreme weather events is a top priority of the initiative. Without resilient critical facilities, communities are vulnerable to disruptions including hurricanes, earthquakes and power grid outages. For example, three years ago, after Hurricane Maria, the lack of power to schools shut down classes for months. School-aged children in Puerto Rico lost more than 13 million cumulative days of classes. In addition, during COVID-19, schools and other facilities are needed for distributing food as part of public assistance programs.

Microgrids offer numerous benefits to communities beyond resilience. Puerto Ricans pay twice as much for electricity compared with those that live in the United States. Microgrid systems dramatically cut energy bills, meaning participating organizations can put resources into a resilient system that they own and operate. Once payments on the systems are complete, organizations will have minimal energy costs. Microgrids reduce emissions, helping Puerto Rico meet the goals outlined in Act 17 (Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act), including 40 percent renewable generation by 2025. Microgrids also support local economic growth, as system construction and operation create new job opportunities.

Additionally, the coalition is working with seven Puerto Rican urban and rural municipalities throughout the island in an effort to unlock access to federal funding opportunities. It will do this by providing technical assistance on identifying appropriate funding opportunities, critical facility selection, system design, application filling and submission, installation, operation and executing knowledge exchange programs.

In the coming year, the intative will launch five pilot projects at public and private facilities (health clinics, pharmacies, shelters, etc.), define and advance a broad pipeline of projects, and develop a finance mechanism that is supported by local and international investors as well as philanthropy.

Isabel Beltran, director, Resilience and Energy for The Rockefeller Foundation’s Power Initiative said:

“Following extensive planning, research and assessment in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria, we are excited to announce the first five projects which will benefit from the fund. Through building resilience in the critical infrastructure in Puerto Rico that will stand up to the adversity of natural disasters, and knowledge exchange across municipalities, we are able to provide a pipeline of commercially viable investment opportunities as well as bring essential energy to those who need it.”

“By strengthening local control of renewable energy resources, communities are empowered to move forward toward more resilient, equitable and sustainable futures,” said Alejandra M. Castrodad Rodríguez, RPPR’s executive director.

“This fund will support communities by fast-tracking building resilience for critical facilities by tapping into blended financing—this model could be replicable in other geographies and is a way to unlock projects that otherwise have not been able to get financed,” said Roy Torbert, RMI principal.

“We have been committed to Puerto Rico’s grassroots solarization process, as seen in Toro Negro and Culebra. This partnership allows us to take a step further, using our gained experience, to scale up the solarization of critical facilities. Our role will not only focus on the technical aspects of the initiative, but also on facilitating the engagement of the communities,” mentioned Dr. Nelson I. Colón Tarrats, FCPR’s president and CEO.

While the primary focus of the partnership will be critical facilities, commercial scale deployments may be considered in the project portfolio.

To learn more about the Community Energy Resilience Initiative and Fund or to participate, contact CERF@rmi.org.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas, and conversations.

More information on RMI can be found at rockefellerfoundation.org or follow us on Twitter @RockefellerFdn.

About Rocky Mountain Institute
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)—an independent nonprofit founded in 1982—transforms global energy use to create a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. It engages businesses, communities, institutions, and entrepreneurs to accelerate the adoption of market-based solutions that cost-effectively shift from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. RMI has offices in Basalt and Boulder, Colorado; New York City; the San Francisco Bay Area; Washington, D.C.; and Beijing.

More information on RMI can be found at rmi.org or follow us on Twitter @RockyMtnInst.

About Resilient Power Puerto Rico
Resilient Power Puerto Rico leverages its network of committed collaborators to: strengthen communities’ capacities to assess and address their critical needs; increase local access to knowledge, tools, and resources for sustainable and equitable community development; and foster the continuity of critical built and social infrastructure systems.

Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico
FCPR promotes access to water, renewable energy, housing, economic development, and education by strengthening community capital to bridge the inequality gap in our communities.