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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Island EV infrastructure to benefit from $51 million federal injection

Transportation and Public Works Secretary Eileen Vélez Vega

By The Star Staff

The U.S. Department of Transportation approved a grant of $51.48 million for the development of charging and alternative fuel supply areas for electric vehicles in Puerto Rico, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia announced Thursday.

“This allocation of funds to create a network infrastructure of chargers for electric vehicles on public roads is great news for the goal we have set for ourselves of having a cleaner and more resilient Puerto Rico,” the governor said. “This is the result of the teamwork between the Department of Transportation and Public Works [DTOP by its Spanish acronym], the Highways and Transportation Authority [HTA] and the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration in Washington that together managed to get a proposal approved so that the island would have access to this money.”

“I thank President Biden’s administration for this grant, and we will make sure to expedite the use of these funds,” he added.

DTOP Secretary Eileen Vélez Vega said the new federal grant will allow the establishment of charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and the supply of alternative fuels in public places such as public roads, schools, parks and public access parking lots.

“This is part of the Freight and Refueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program, a new grant program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act,” she said.

HTA Executive Director Edwin González Montalvo added that “we continue to be focused on executing Governor Pierluisi’s vision for safer, more resilient and eco-friendly roads for all Puerto Ricans.” “This initiative from the federal government reaffirms the affirmative steps that this administration has taken to create a network of long-distance electric chargers to promote a more eco-friendly Puerto Rico for everyone,” he said.

DTOP and its attached agencies have been successful in obtaining other federal grants through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and Federal Aviation Administration. They are competitive grants that Puerto Rico is maximizing to continue transforming transportation infrastructure and services in Puerto Rico, Vélez Vega said.

“We have developed close communication with the Federal Department of Transportation, which helps us identify and maximize the use of available federal funds,” she noted.

Separately, the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) ordered LUMA Energy in 2022 to evaluate EV adoption in Puerto Rico. PREB told the private operator of the island’s transmission and distribution system to focus on low-income customers and develop a plan that considers the unique mobility challenges of low- and moderate-income households, ensuring that the benefits of clean transportation are broadly shared.

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