The San Juan Daily Star
Governor announces another energy voucher program in his State of the State address
By John McPhaul
Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia on Tuesday announced another voucher program for citizens to finance renewable energy systems during his State of the State address to the Puerto Rico Legislature.
“In fact, yesterday our Department of Housing opened the Energy Resilience Program portal where low-income people could apply for a voucher of up to $30,100 for a solar panel system with batteries, and it was a total success,” the governor said in his address on the floor of the island House of Representatives. “And today I am announcing that, with a $30 million investment of CDBG-MIT [Community Development Block Grant Disaster Mitigation program] funds, we are creating a new voucher program that will provide middle-class individuals and families with an incentive of up to 30 percent of the cost of a battery-powered solar system for their homes.”
In his address Pierluisi included a barrage of facts and figures of investment in infrastructure and social development under his government, including a $40 million investment in a “21st Century Fund” to invest in the human capital of young people on the island.
The governor said his government had reduced the paperwork in the permitting process and reduced the number of pending permits from 11,000 to 600.
He said his government is improving the investment climate on the island and has created 120,000 new jobs.
“We now have the lowest unemployment rate in our history,” Pierluisi said.
The governor also gave some preliminary details of the budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year, which he said will leave $180 million in the pocketbooks of the public.
“Our people deserve this tax relief,” he said.
“Later tonight we will present a draft version of the budget to the [Financial] Oversight [and Management] Board and begin the process to justify every dollar we invest in our people,” Pierluisi said. “The central government budget will amount to $12.74 billion and the consolidated budget will amount to $31.63 billion. And I am confident that this budget will provide us with the necessary funds to fully meet the essential services that our people deserve.”
The governor also called on the Legislative Assembly to address the tax bill.
“I count on us to be able to put aside political-partisan issues, so I invite this Legislature to approve that tax relief,” he said. “The time for imposing more taxes on our people is over. It is time to ease their burden and promote our economic development.”
He asked legislators to be judicious in the bills they approve, so as not to continue with the vetoes of the oversight board.
“When legislating, we must be responsible with the people’s money, carry out the necessary economic studies before approving measures, seek the right balance, and fulfill the responsibility we carry on our shoulders,” Pierluisi said. “Only in this way will we get Puerto Rico back on its feet, and we will leave the oversight board with our heads held high and with the government standing.”
The governor also announced a “Smart Island” project to provide free WiFi throughout Puerto Rico.