The San Juan Daily Star
FEMA greenlights first phase of Vieques-Culebra solar microgrid project
By The Star Staff
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the first phase of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) project to design a new solar-powered microgrid system for the offshore island municipalities of Vieques and Culebra, according to a statement.
The total cost of the project is nearly $97 million across two phases and will be fully funded by FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The information was provided by the American Public Power Association, citing FEMA. The approval took place on March 29.
The microgrid, which will be able to function independently from the main grid, includes a 12.5-megawatt (MW) solar-based system for Vieques and another 3-MW system for Culebra. The grids aim to increase power generation capabilities and leverage renewable energy through solar panels, making the project more sustainable, FEMA said.
The first phase of the project, which accounts for over $10.2 million of the total project cost, will consist of architectural and engineering design services, a geotechnical study and an electrical load assessment, among other preconstruction activities.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) provides funding to state, local, tribal and territorial governments so they can develop hazard mitigation plans and rebuild in a way that reduces, or mitigates, future disaster losses in their communities. Funds for projects under the program are obligated in phases as preliminary steps are completed that may lead to the approval of additional funding obligations.
Puerto Rico has access to roughly $4 billion in HMGP funding, the maximum allocated by Congress. To date, FEMA has allocated nearly $3 billion under this program in addition to over $29 billion under its Public Assistance program to help the island rebuild after Hurricane Maria.