By The Star Staff
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2024, which the U.S. House of Representatives approved on Thursday, allocates funds for continuing military projects in Puerto Rico.
The bill contains language promoting the cleanup of land and water in the offshore island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra, the office of Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González Colón said.
The Senate approved the measure on Wednesday, so it now goes to President Joe Biden to be signed into law (see related story on page 7).
The NDAA authorizes $73.7 million for the construction of military projects in Puerto Rico. The projects include $56 million to build a microgrid at Fort Buchanan with diesel generators and a battery energy storage system.
The Buchanan project has begun its design and planning phase, using federal funds previously allocated to the Department of Defense.
The next phase will be the construction process, the authorization of which is included in the current NDAA and which would be funded through the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. Although this measure is still pending final approval in Congress, both the House and Senate versions include allocating funds for the project.
The NDAA bill also allocates $7.6 million to complete a microgrid control system at the Army Reserve Center at Fort Allen in Juana Díaz, $6.3 million to complete a microgrid control system at the Ramey Army Reserve Center in Aguadilla and $3.6 million to complete the National Guard Military Readiness Center at Fort Allen.
Additionally, authorization is being extended through October 2024 for two military construction projects previously authorized by Congress. They are the replacement of the Ramey Unit School, which was licensed in the FY 2018 NDAA for $61 million, and the Puerto Rico National Guard Military Readiness Center at Fort Allen, which was authorized for $37 million in the FY 2021 NDAA.
The U.S. defense secretary is further required to report to Congress by March 1, 2024 on the feasibility of amending the Military Construction Act of 1974 to authorize the limited waiver of restrictions on the use of resources for decontamination in certain areas within the old detonation zone in Culebra.