Grid Enhancement Programs: ER1 & ER2

Grid Enhancement Programs: ER1 & ER2

Electricity is a vital resource in people’s daily lives and the functioning of communities. In Puerto Rico, the importance of a reliable and resilient electricity supply has become even more evident after the challenges faced by the electrical system during the natural disasters of recent years. In response to this situation, two important programs for the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and improvement of the electrical grid have been approved with CDBG-DR funds: the Cost Distribution Program for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the Electrical Grid (ER1) and the Program for the Reliability and Resilience of Electric Power (ER2). In this article, we will explore the general characteristics of both programs.

Cost Distribution Program for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the Electrical Grid (ER1)

This program has a budget of $500 million and aims to cover the non-federal costs of the unprecedented allocation from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) project at the island level, according to the FEMA Accelerated Awards Strategy (FAASt). The grant model requires 10% of non-federal financing for the recovery of the electrical system. Even eligibility requirements are not fully available, besides being “projects considered eligible by FEMA.”

At the moment, the ER1 program is in the process of amendments since March 2023, where the Department of Housing continues with the planning, design, and implementation process of the program.

To monitor the progress of the ER1 program, it is recommended to visit the official website of CDBG-DR Puerto Rico.

Program for the Reliability and Resilience of Electric Power (ER2)

The ER2 Program, also known as the Program for the Reliability and Resilience of Electric Power, is a comprehensive initiative aimed at improving Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure and strengthening its ability to resist and quickly recover from natural disasters. This program was designed to address existing challenges and create a more robust and reliable electrical grid. It has a budget of $1.3 billion.

One of the main features of the ER2 Program is the modernization of the electrical infrastructure. This involves the implementation of advanced technologies, such as intelligent monitoring and control systems, to improve early fault detection and rapid response to interruptions. In addition, the integration of renewable energy sources and storage systems is promoted, contributing to greater diversification of the energy matrix and reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

The ER2 Program also focuses on strengthening existing infrastructure. Improvements will be made to the electrical distribution and transmission network to make it more resistant to the impacts of extreme weather phenomena. Protection and backup systems will be implemented to prevent prolonged interruptions and minimize recovery time after an adverse event.

In addition to physical improvements, the program also includes the promotion of more efficient management and planning practices. Response and recovery protocols for emergencies are established, as well as preventive and corrective maintenance strategies to ensure optimal operation of the electrical grid. Likewise, training and skills development are encouraged for the personnel responsible for operating and maintaining the electrical infrastructure.

The program is designed as a grant in which:

  • There is a minimum award of up to $5 million.
  • Eligible public entities can receive grants of up to 100% of the capital costs of a project.
  • Eligible private entities can receive grants of up to 60% of the capital costs of a project.
  • The remaining 40% of capital costs must come from a source other than CDBG-DR Energy funds and must be secured by the entity.

Entities eligible to carry out projects to improve the electrical energy system include:

  • Agencies, Authorities, Trusts, and Boards of the Government of Puerto Rico.
  • Public-private partnerships as defined in the Public-Private Partnerships Act.
  • Local general government units, local and municipal governments, including departments and divisions.
  • For-profit businesses.
  • Health Systems and Public Hospitals.
  • Non-profit entities that meet capacity and experience requirements.

Currently, the design and implementation of the program are in progress. Among the updates, on February 3, 2023, an agreement was signed with the Puerto Rico Medical Services Administration (ASEM) to build a Microgrid that will supply power to the Medical Center. The request for proposal for the Medical Center Microgrid project was signed on February 10, 2023.

In summary, the Cost Distribution Program for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the Electrical Grid (ER1) and the Program for the Reliability and Resilience of Electric Power (ER2) represent important initiatives of the Government of Puerto Rico to improve the electrical infrastructure and strengthen the response capacity to natural disasters. These programs seek to ensure a reliable and safe electricity supply for citizens and contribute to the resilience of the island in the face of adverse events. Investment in the rehabilitation and modernization of the electrical grid is crucial for the well-being and sustainable development of Puerto Rico.