Latest News

University of Puerto Rico Wins US Solar District Cup

Date: June 28, 2024

The team from the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayagüez campus (RUM, in Spanish) recently defeated 16 other teams to win this year’s Solar District Cup Collegiate Design Competition’s Class of 2023–2024, which was sponsored by the US Department of Energy (DOE), News Is My Business reports.

The students from the College of Engineering at RUM submitted their project titled “Minds to Create.” and achieved first place in the competition hosted by the DOE. This marks the second time the team from RUM has achieved first place, surpassing prestigious universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Texas A&M.

“It is immensely satisfying that we not only dominated Solar District but also an additional one among the champions. This is the first time that Puerto Rico or any Hispanic institution has achieved such a distinction. So, today, we are No. 1 in the United States and Puerto Rico in the area of photovoltaic system design. There is no one better than us in the area of solar systems,” said Dr. Eduardo I. Ortiz-Rivera, professor of electrical engineering and computers and the teams’ mentor. Read more.

NSF Previews Arecibo C3 Pilot Phase

Date: June 28, 2024

According to Mirage News, as excitement builds for the grand opening of the new US National Science Foundation Arecibo Center for Culturally Relevant and Inclusive Science Education, Computational Skills, and Community Engagement (NSF Arecibo C3), anticipated in November 2024, NSF is pleased to announce the start of a pilot phase this summer, engaging small groups of local students and educators to test the center's activities and exhibits. 

"We are thrilled to announce the pilot phase of NSF Arecibo C3, marking a significant step toward realizing NSF's vision of a dynamic science center open to all, fostering curiosity, innovation and exploration," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "As we prepare for the grand opening later this fall, we look forward to engaging communities from across Puerto Rico and welcoming everyone to a center that will spark a passion for STEM and inspire future generations of scientists and researchers."

This phase will be conducted by invitation only via focus group activities in the summer. During this period, the center will remain closed to the public. The insights collected from this pilot phase will help shape the center's future as it approaches its anticipated opening celebration in November 2024.  Read more.

Puerto Rico to Get $28.6M for Lead Pipe Replacement

Date: May 16, 2024

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced a $28.6 million allocation to help Puerto Rico identify and replace lead service lines to prevent lead exposure in drinking water, News Is My Business reports.

Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and available through the EPA’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, the total funding announced through this program aims to replace up to 1.7 million lead pipes nationwide, ensuring clean drinking water for numerous families.

The Puerto Rico Department of Health will use these funds to advance the health protection objectives of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This agreement provides funds to replace lead drinking water service lines and supports the planning, design and replacement of service lines owned by customers and the Puerto Rico Aqueducts & Sewer Authority, according to the federal agency.

The Department of Health will also use this funding to offer technical assistance to state program managers and administrators of small water systems. Read more.

Regulator Approves 360MW Plan to Accelerate Battery Storage Deployments

Date: May 16, 2024

The Puerto Rico Electricity Board (PREB) has approved a plan to accelerate the adoption of battery energy storage system (BESS) technology, Energy Storage News reports.

Regulator PREB told Luma Energy, the US-Canadian joint venture (JV) responsible for the Puerto Rican electricity distribution network, that its proposal to contract with independent power producers (IPPs) for BESS resources was aligned with public power policy.

The distribution provider, appointed after the privatisation of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) assets, “informally proposed” its ‘Accelerated storage addition program’ (ASAP) in November last year.

Luma claimed ASAP could significantly reduce the time required to integrate BESS onto the grid, compared to Puerto Rico’s present system of renewable energy and energy storage procurements through tenders.

Under the programme, IPPs with current power purchase and operating agreements (PPOAs) with PREPA would add BESS at their locations, “on an accelerated basis,” according to PREB documents posted to the regulator’s website. Read more.

Report: Puerto Rico Can Hit 100% Renewables by 2050 With Significant Investment

Date: April 22, 2024

Following back-to-back hurricanes in 2017, Puerto Rico saw nearly 80% of its power grid destroyed. In 2019, the territory passed Act 17, which committed to achieving 100% renewable energy by 2050. New analysis from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) shows that this goal is attainable, PEI reports.

The Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study (PR100) is a two-year study — led by the US Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency — that leveraged and integrated dozens of models and analyses from researchers across six DOE national laboratories: the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (which led the study), along with Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

“We live in remarkably challenging times. It is collaborative efforts such as PR100 that show NREL answering those challenges in inspiring ways,” said NREL Director Martin Keller. “What I find exhilarating about the PR100 study is that it validates NREL’s approach to such all-encompassing community visions—it is a result of our extensive dialogue with the people who will bring these ideas to life.” Read more.

Puerto Rico Sees Increased Use of Public Transit

Date: April 22, 2024

Following the announcement of not charging for public transportation services in the Puerto Rico Integrated Transportation Authority (PRITA), Urban Train (Tren Urbano, in Spanish), Metrobus, TU Conexión, Metro Urbano and the Metropolitan Bus Authority (MBA), there has been an increase in their use, the reports.

According to data provided by the MBA, for the month of February, passenger patronage on its regular route was 208,118. While for March, after the announcement of the free service, the reported patronage was 249,735, an increase of 41,617 passengers between February and March. Likewise, if we look at the weekly average, in February there were 52,030 passengers and for March there were 62,434 passengers. So far this year, through March, the MBA system has registered 747,565 passengers.

MBA President and CEO, Karen Correa Pomales, acknowledged that "it is a fact that offering public transportation services free of charge has been a success that has generated a considerable increase in ridership. One of the reasons for this measure of offering free transportation is precisely to complete the installation of the new standardized and uniform fare collection system. Once installed, the public will also require a prudent amount of time to become familiar with it. Read more.

Federal Court Holds Hearing Over Power Company’s Debt

Date: March 19, 2024

A key hearing over the future of Puerto Rico’s crumbling power company and its staggering $9 billion debt recently began in federal court following years of acrimonious talks between the US territory’s government and creditors seeking to recover their investments, the AP reports.

The hearing will focus on a proposed debt-restructuring plan. It comes nearly seven years after Puerto Rico’s government filed for the biggest bankruptcy in US municipal history after announcing it was unable to pay its more than $73 billion debt following decades of corruption, mismanagement, and excessive borrowing.

Scores of protesters gathered outside the courthouse before the hearing, decrying that power bills, already among the highest in a US jurisdiction, would increase again if the plan is approved, leading to an even higher cost of living in the US Carribean territory. Read more.

Cornell to Help Bring Clean Drinking Water to Rural Puerto Rico

Date: March 19, 2024

Cornell University has announced that its Engineering Department is leading an initiative to help small communities in Puerto Rico finance, build and operate clean drinking water systems, with the goal of expanding the project to other US locations. The project, Water for Small And Very Small Systems (WaterSAVerS), is being funded by the US National Science Foundation Convergence Accelerator program aimed at developing innovative technologies and solutions to improve freshwater systems.

Some communities are stuck in the middle between large cities that have government support for large mechanized centralized water systems and individual households that use point-of-use systems. Though centralized water treatment and distribution is beneficial to communities, they may lack resources to plan, design, operate and maintain a water treatment system. The WaterSAVerS project – led by Ruth Richardson, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering – will focus on Puerto Rico, which has economic challenges as well as severe natural disaster risk, particularly in the face of climate change.

The team’s project will have three convergent focus areas to achieve the ultimate goal of a framework for rapid deployment of SaVerS water systems including governance and financing, community education and workforce training, and resilient water system technologies. Read more.

$94M Contract Awarded for Build Emergency Warning System

Date: February 23, 2024

According to News is My Business, California-based Genasys Inc. has secured a $94.3 million critical infrastructure project to develop an Emergency Warning System (EWS) for 37 in Puerto Rico. Genasys specializes in protective communications systems and solutions and was selected to engineer, procure and build the EWS “for the hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors living downstream” of the dams. The company said it expects to recognize $60 million to $70 million in revenue over the project’s duration.

Awarded by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the project will utilize Genasys’ Protect platform for early detection and communication of flood threats, which includes proprietary software and hardware solutions, with sensors and communication equipment. “Genasys has been working with FEMA, PREPA and the government of Puerto Rico since the devastating hurricane Maria in 2017,” said Genasys CEO Richard Danforth. In response to the disaster of the Guajataca dam, which required the evacuation of 70,000 residents shortly after hurricane Maria in 2017, the Puerto Rico Emergency Agency, funded by FEMA, contracted with Genasys to design and install the first EWS on the island starting in 2018. Read more.

Strong Growth in Puerto Rico Construction Sector

Date: February 23, 2024

Given the demand in the construction sector on the island, the Associated General Contractors of America, Puerto Rico Chapter (AGC-PR), said there is a strengthening of the sector influenced by government investment in infrastructure works for the reconstruction of the country's aqueduct and sewer system, schools, and highways.

According to the association's president, José L. Ortiz Serrano, the investment distributed between the private and public sectors for 2023 was around $5 billion -according to data from the Planning Board (JP)-, which projects a growth of up to 6% for 2024.

"Finally, all the reconstruction work that is coming as a result of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the earthquakes and even some of the pandemic-related stuff, well now comes the time when it is being done," Ortiz Serrano said. Read the full The News Journal report.

EV Charging Network Developer to be Chosen in February

Date: January 19, 2024

The Federal Highway Administration has allocated $51.4 million in grant funding to the Puerto Rico Highways & Transportation Authority (PRHTA) to establish a network of 10 publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along the island’s Route 2, and highways 22 and 52, News Is My Business reports.

The funds are part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s $2.5 billion Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program, a competitive funding initiative that will fund 47 EV charging and alternative-fueling infrastructure projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, including the construction of approximately 7,500 EV charging ports.

The secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Transportation and Public Works, Eileen Vega-Vélez, told News is my Business that the island will work with a private-sector provider that will be selected in February, following a request for proposal process that began in August. “The PRHTA committee received the proposals in December and will be meeting this month to analyze them,” she stated. Read more.

Tesla Launches Puerto Rico Virtual Power Plant

Date: January 19, 2024

Tesla has officially launched its Virtual Power Plant (VPP) in Puerto Rico, potentially becoming the world's most enormous owing to its extensive Powerwall user base, Interesting Engineering reports. This initiative, introduced to support the island's power grid, aims to leverage distributed energy assets, predominantly rooftop solar and home energy storage, providing grid services like peak shaving.

The VPP concept involves aggregating energy resources from individual customer assets, assisting the grid when needed, and compensating participating customers. Tesla's VPP in Puerto Rico, a collaborative effort with Sunova Energy and Sunrun, presents an opportunity for approximately 75,000 Powerwall owners in the region to enroll directly via the Tesla app.

The VPP establishes a network of residential battery units ready to support the grid when required. It allows Powerwall owners to participate in the Battery Emergency Demand Response Program, offering compensation of $1 for every kWh their Powerwall supplies during grid-supporting events.

Participants must have a residential service account registered in LUMA's Net Energy Metering program and should not be simultaneously enrolled with another aggregator. The program review process determines eligibility and automatically enrolls eligible participants. Read more.

Puerto Rico Case Study Sheds Light on Academic-NGO Collaborations

Date: January 19, 2024

Puerto Rico has faced several human-made and natural crises in recent years, including the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Building disaster resilience and recovery is crucial for community well-being and requires a comprehensive approach with cooperation from multiple organizations. A new study from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign examines the partnership between a Puerto Rican non-governmental organization (NGO) and a group of academics, according to a news release.

“Disaster resilience is a grand-scale challenge that is complex and multifaceted. When individuals from different disciplines and cultural perspectives come together, there is genuine value in approaching the problem from as many of those perspectives as possible. In this study, we sought to identify the complexities, risks, and pitfalls of NGO-academic cooperation in order to lay out a process that is more efficient and successful for future practitioners,” said Luis F. Rodríguez, associate professor in the University of Illinois’ Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Rodríguez is a co-author of the study, which documents the collaboration between a National Science Foundation INFEWS-ER (Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy, and Water Systems Educational Resources) project and Caras con Causa, a Puerto Rican NGO that works with disadvantaged communities to create educational, environmental, and economic opportunities for local youth. Read more.

$12 Billion Aims to Boost Puerto Rico’s Clean Energy Shift

Date: December 14, 2023

The US Congress Joint Economic Committee Democrats has released a report outlining the potential for economic growth in Puerto Rico through investment in clean energy infrastructure, News is My Business reports.

The report emphasizes the importance of modernizing the island’s energy grid with the $12 billion appropriated by Congress, but notes that the relief funding “has not yet resulted in comprehensive changes to the system.”

“By unlocking this funding and ensuring that it is directed toward a new system based on renewable energy, the federal government can help Puerto Rico become a leader in the clean energy transition,” the report says of the investment, which aligns with the island government’s goal of achieving 100% renewable energy dependence by 2050.

According to the report, “A more resilient energy system that uses cleaner, domestically produced sources will protect communities’ health and wellbeing, and provide a strong foundation on which Puerto Rico can further build a future of strong and more equitable economic growth.”

The report concludes with optimism for Puerto Rico’s clean energy transition, supported by studies from the US Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office. Read more.

DEPCOM Power Launches Puerto Rico’s Largest Solar BESS Project

Date: December 14, 2023

DEPCOM Power, an integrated engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) company that also provides operations and maintenance (O&M) services for utility-scale solar and energy storage markets, has inaugurated Ciro One. This is Puerto Rico's largest solar and battery energy storage system (BESS) at Salinas, ETN News reports.

The 90 MW photovoltaic (PV) and 51.5 MW BESS facilities were set up by a group consisting DEPCOM, which conceptualized the project and managed the installation, alongside developer partner Ciro Energy Group and local subcontractor Lord Construction Inc. Ciro One will generate enough energy to power 60,000 typical Puerto Rican homes, and marks a major step toward meeting Puerto Rico's aim to generate 100% of its electricity needs through renewable sources by 2050. The system is expected to begin operation end of 2024. DEPCOM will also operate and maintain the system for a five-year period.

In a statement, Johnnie Taul, CEO of DEPCOM, said: "Ciro One illustrates DEPCOM's strengths in merging large-scale solar deployment, advanced BESS expertise, and integrated EPC and O&M services - building critical infrastructure for the community's energy future." Read more.

Parsons Corporation Secures Role in $5 Billion Puerto Rico Power Project

Date: November 14, 2023

Parsons Corporation has been selected to participate in the US Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District's extensive $5 billion contract aimed at stabilizing Puerto Rico's power system, which has suffered from storm and earthquake damage since 2017. The company is set to play a critical role in providing temporary power solutions to support the ongoing repair work at power generation facilities across the island, according to

The contract positions Parsons to compete for orders that will facilitate the delivery of temporary power generation necessary due to the compromised state of Puerto Rico's power grid following multiple natural disasters post-2017. This initiative is part of a broader effort by the US government to aid in the recovery of Puerto Rican residents and ensure the continuity of electrical service.

The need for temporary power stems from significant damages sustained by Puerto Rico's power system as a result of several storms and an earthquake. As restoration efforts proceed, Parsons' extensive experience over six decades in providing energy-related solutions, including alternative and renewable energy sources, will be instrumental in meeting the needs of customers during this critical period. Read more.

ZetaMinusOne Opens Office to Support Rebuild of Tech Energy Infrastructure

Date: November 14, 2023

News Is My Business reports that ZetaMinusOne has opened an office on the island, drawn by the Act 60 incentives code.

The company specializes in systems engineering and technology, providing services that promote data-driven transformation to enhance revenue streams, margins, and efficiency. It also offers consulting and provides “the opportunity to keep Puerto Rican human resources in Puerto Rico and bring them back to the island,” company executives said.

“When we started this company, we always visualized innovation by constantly using cutting-edge technologies to solve our clients’ problems. Furthermore, we aimed to make our company one that serves to promote young Puerto Rican talent,” said Javier Muñiz, one of its founders.

“Puerto Rico has suffered several devastating hurricanes over the last decade. We have worked on projects in the energy industry that allow us to contribute and be part of the island’s recovery process. Recognizing the serious damage to the energy transmission systems and the outdated energy generation capacity, we see a great opportunity to help improve and rebuild the island’s technical energy infrastructure with distributed generation technologies, solar energy and battery storage, among others,” said Ben Reyes, a ZetaMinusOne co-founder. Read more.

USDA Awards $6 Million For Renewable Energy Projects in Puerto Rico

Date: October 16, 2023

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded $6,023,666 for 31 renewable energy projects in Puerto Rico, The News Journal reports.

The loans and grants will allow agricultural producers and rural small businesses to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficient improvements to reduce their energy costs, generate new revenue and strengthen the resilience of their operation.

With grants from USDA Rural Development and the rural private sector, there will be an investment of nearly $20 million in renewable energy systems and more efficient equipment, according to Maximiliano J. Trujillo-Ortega, state director of USDA Rural Development for Puerto Rico.

“These systems will help rural small and medium sized enterprises and farmers lower energy costs, keep equipment and services running when power outages occur, boosting Puerto Rico’s economy,” said Trujillo-Ortega. He confirmed that USDA Rural Development is set to offer loans and grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) included in the funding of the Inflation Reduction Act, until September 2024. The state director also indicated that of the 31 cases that received funds, four are for agricultural producers and six are in Rural Partners Network (RPN) zones. Read more.

Firms Awarded Spots on $5 Billion Power Project Contract

Date: October 16, 2023

Six companies have secured spots on a $5 billion contract to support the US Army in a power generation and stabilization project in Puerto Rico, according to News is My Business.

The companies, Amentum, AshBritt, CDM Smith, OMP Solutions, PTSI Managed Services, and Weston Solutions, will compete for orders under the firm-fixed-price contract set to be completed by September 2028, according to the Department of Defense.

Launched in July, the service branch’s solicitation aims to stabilize Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will handle the task orders, which encompass planning, coordination and installation of temporary generating units, operation and maintenance, and collaboration with the Puerto Rico Electric & Power Authority (PREPA) and LUMA Energy. Work locations and funding will be determined based on individual task orders.

According to the multiple award task order contract, the contractor will provide power generation services to USACE customers. “The power generation services consist of rental and delivery of generator units; electrical connection of the generator output to the power grid; installation of new, or modification/repair of existing, power monitoring and control systems; testing and commissioning of the power generation and electrical systems; and operation and maintenance of the installed systems, to include fueling,” the contract reads. Read more.

Puerto Rico Gets $158 Million for Two Broadband Programs

Date: September 21, 2023

Puerto Rico will receive an additional $158 million allocation from the US Treasury Department to develop broadband infrastructure that includes building two new submarine fiber-optic cables to boost resiliency and reliability of internet services, News is My Business reports.

During a news conference in Washington, DC, Joseph Wender, director of the Capital Projects Fund at the US Treasury’s Office of Recovery, explained that the funding will be divided to cover two initiatives: $85.7 million for the Puerto Rico submarine cable resiliency program, which will construct a new submarine fiber route to the island from the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands and create three new cable landing stations on the island’s coastlines; and $64.7 million to fund the Puerto Rico Multipurpose Community Technology Center program, which seeks to establish namesake centers throughout the island.

“This is a critical part of the president’s commitment to uplifting families and creating an economy that works for everyone and, at Treasury, we’re excited for the opportunities that these funds will create in Puerto Rico,” Wender said. Read more.

New Partnership Aims to Boost Circular Economy in Puerto Rico

Date: September 21, 2023

A new strategic partnership aims to boost the circular economy innovation on the island of Puerto Rico to convert unmanaged or landfilled items, such as sargassum seaweed, plastics and tires, into new products, according to Forbes.

The New York-based technology center, Newlab, and the island’s economic development organization, Invest Puerto Rico, are recruiting entrepreneurs and early-stage companies to pilot innovative waste conversion solutions. The aim is to reduce landfill waste, unlock the potential for renewable life cycles of materials, such as end-of-life tires, waste plastics, and sargassum seaweed, and turn these items into valuable resources.

Sargassum is a seaweed whose excess growth in recent years is affecting the coastal ecosystems and communities of Puerto Rico and other nearby Caribbean islands.

Tires are another damaging waste stream in Puerto Rico, with almost 18,000 tires being disposed every day on the island. And by harnessing advancements in recycling technologies and circular design principles, the partners seek to make plastic recycling viable in Puerto Rico to alleviate the issues around plastic waste and to reduce dependency on imports. Read more.

DOE Commits Over $450 Million to Expand Solar Access in Puerto Rico

Date: August 15, 2023

In a significant stride toward fostering energy sustainability and cost reduction, the US Department of Energy (DOE) has unveiled a substantial commitment of up to $453.5 million hailing from the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund (PR-ERF), Solarquarter reports.

This funding aims to stimulate the widespread adoption of residential rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and battery storage systems throughout the region, with a dedicated emphasis on extending support to Puerto Rico’s most economically disadvantaged residents. The latest round of financial backing will encompass comprehensive consumer safeguards and educational initiatives, designed to facilitate the enduring utilization of solar infrastructure by local inhabitants. Additionally, a Solar Ambassador Prize will be instituted, incentivizing community groups to facilitate the identification and engagement of eligible households, thereby aligning with Puerto Rico’s overarching ambition of establishing a resilient energy grid powered exclusively by renewable sources.

The announcement heralds an inaugural funding opportunity made available through PR-ERF, amounting to a staggering $450 million. This allocation is meticulously structured to incentivize the installation of 30,000 to 40,000 solar PV and battery storage systems targeting economically disadvantaged single-family households. Read more.

Puerto Rico Gets $30.9 Million to Repair Public Transportation System

Date: August 15, 2023

NimB reports that the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration has allocated $30.9 million to fund repairs and improvements to public transport terminals in Puerto Rico, along with vehicle acquisitions in the towns of Las Marías, Hormigueros and Ponce, and attention to the Urban Train light rail system in San Juan.

Of the total, $30 million is designated for the Puerto Rico Highways & Transportation Authority. The funding will be used for a project to permanently repair damage to the Urban Train, which includes engineering and design services and rehabilitation of fixed facilities. This funding was awarded in response to the emergency declaration following a series of earthquakes in the island’s southwest.

The Municipality of Hormigueros will receive $396,000 to replace four vehicles damaged by natural disasters. The vehicles are used for community transportation services via the Julio Pérez Irizarry Multiple Activities and Services Center. The town of Las Marías will receive $312,419 for repairs to the public transport terminal, for damages caused by Hurricane Isaías, which affected the island in July 2020.

Lastly, the Municipality of Ponce will receive $154,937 for permanent repairs to the Carlos Garay Public Car Terminal and the Dora Colón Clavell Urban Park, which were damaged by hurricanes Maria and Fiona. Read more.

Electric Power Authority Reaches $1B Agreement for Guajataca Dam Fix

Date: July 17, 2023

The US Army Corps of Engineers has signed a $1 billion agreement with the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority to make permanent repairs and improvements to the island nation’s beleaguered Guajataca Dam, Engineering News-Record reports.

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro R. Pierluisi announced the agreement, saying the Corps will support the dam’s reconstruction, including design, engineering, procurement, contract administration, construction supervision and project management. The agency said the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will provide funding for the project, to be completed in 2028.

The Lake Guajataca reservoir currently provides drinking water to more than 300,000 in the cities of San Sebastián, Quebradillas, Isabela, Moca, Aguada, and Aguadilla as well as providing water for agricultural irrigation. Construction efforts will also restore and modernize the dam's hydroelectric capability, which was shut down following damage from Hurricane Maria.

Built in 1928, the 984-ft-long, 120-ft-tall hydroelectric earthen dam, located in the island’s northwestern region, experienced a critical failure on September 20, 2017, following Hurricane Maria. The Category 5 storm, with winds reaching 175 m.p.h., killed more than 3,000 people and caused more than $91 billion in damages. The dam suffered severe damage to its spillway, pipes, and water intake, endangering 70,000 residents. Read more.

Biden Admin Eyes $5 Billion Fossil Fuel Build-Out in Puerto Rico

Date: July 17, 2023

The Army Corps of Engineers plans to spend up to $5 billion on temporary fossil fuel power plants and infrastructure repairs in Puerto Rico, a move the agency says will improve the territory’s troubled electric grid but that critics warn could derail the island’s clean energy transition, EnergyWire reports.

The Army Corps issued a notice in June seeking a contractor to fix existing power plants, electric transformers and cables and build new natural gas- and oil-fired generating units in Puerto Rico. The work has been authorized by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and will be funded by disaster relief money approved by the Biden administration after Hurricane Fiona last year, according to FEMA spokesperson Dasha Castillo.

The announcement sparked backlash from environmental advocates who said the Army Corps’ plans could make Puerto Rico’s goal of 40% renewable energy by 2025 unattainable. Advocates have called for deploying rooftop solar and batteries to solve the territory’s long-standing grid challenges. Read more.

Puerto Rico Gets $334.6 Million to Deploy Broadband Infrastructure

Date: July 17, 2023

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that Puerto Rico will receive $334.6 million to deploy “affordable, reliable” high-speed internet service, as reported by News is My Business. At present, 61,871 homes and small businesses in Puerto Rico lack access to a high-speed internet connection, the federal agency stated. The funding is part of the global $42.45 billion allocation from the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories.

The BEAD funding will be used to deploy or upgrade broadband networks to ensure that everyone has access to high-speed Internet service. Once deployment goals are met, any remaining funding can be used on broadband adoption, training, and workforce development efforts, among other eligible uses. Read more.

NAF Academies of Engineering Graduates First Class of PR Students

Date: June 22, 2023

The NAF Academies of Engineering, a national education nonprofit in partnership with Raytheon Technologies, recently celebrated the first graduating class of high school students in Puerto Rico, News Is My Business reports. Raytheon Technologies is the parent company of Pratt & Whitney in Aguadilla and Collins Aerospace in Santa Isabel.

The event celebrated and recognized the successes of the students who have been part of the NAF Engineering Academies in Puerto Rico that were founded in early 2020 with the support of Raytheon Technologies. The partnership supports career-readiness academies in the United States that help provide equitable access to curriculum, hands-on learning and connections with business professionals, specifically in the engineering and technology industries.

“The graduation of the first cohort of students from the NAF Academies of Engineering in Aguadilla and Santa Isabel is a testament to the success of an impactful private and public partnership between NAF and Raytheon Technologies,” Lisa Dughi, CEO of NAF, said. “In a community that has endured many challenges due to natural disasters and the resulting disruptions, NAF offers Puerto Rico’s students an opportunity to engage in their education with an eye to their futures.” Read more.

Environmentalists Press Judge to Halt Construction on Puerto Rico Port Expansion

Date: June 22, 2023

A plan to expand a shipping port in Puerto Rico to accommodate large oil and natural gas tankers is under the microscope after environmental activists claimed the project, set to begin in July, was fast-tracked while the island recovered from devastating hurricanes, the Courthouse News Service reports.

Lawyers from the Center for Biological Diversity argued earlier this month in Washington before US District Judge Carl J. Nichols that the US Army Corps of Engineers took advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria to move forward on a project in the San Juan Port that they said would adversely affect the local coral and manatee populations, in addition to increased air and noise pollution in low-income communities.

Catherine Kilduff, an attorney for the environmental group, pointed out that the environmental assessment the Corps conducted on the San Juan dredging project was released in August 2018, just under a year after Irma and Maria hit the island in September. Kilduff and other environmental activists that are parties to the case say that the government did not do its due diligence while studying the possible impacts of the project.

The government’s lawyers disagreed with Kilduff’s characterization of the environmental assessment as rushed and inadequate, pointing to years of working with the public and relevant expert agencies such as the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation in every step of the process. Read more.

Popular and Ironhack Partner to Launch Accelerator Program

Date: May 11, 2023

Popular Inc. and Ironhack have announced a joint effort to create an innovative program that will equip emerging talent with the skills and knowledge necessary for a successful career in software engineering across Puerto Rico and Miami, as reported on the News Is My Business website.

The Accelerator Program will offer customized business training and coaching through Ironhack, providing the latest digital technology skills. This collaboration combines Popular’s financial solutions with Ironhack’s technology training. New employees joining the bank under the program in South Florida and Puerto Rico will benefit from a combined global experience that will prepare them for a successful career in software engineering.

“At Popular, we strive to bring the best talent and invest in offering development opportunities to our employees so we can deliver the best banking solutions for our clients,” said Camille Burckhart, chief information and digital strategy officer at Popular. The selected candidates will be hired as associate software engineers and will be part of a world-class technical program through Ironhack. The program includes a full year of continuous, specialized refresher boot camps in cybersecurity, DevOps, mobile development, databases, and Cloud, to equip them with the latest skills and knowledge. Read more.

Owner of Puerto Rico Superfund Site Agrees to Contamination Clean Up

Date: May 11, 2023

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with the Guanica-Caribe Land Development Corporation to remove contaminated soil from the Ochoa Fertilizer Company “Superfund” site in Guánica, Puerto Rico, the NCCOS reports. Environmental contamination originally reported by NCCOS scientists ultimately led EPA to add the site to its National Priority List for contamination clean up — commonly known as the Superfund program.

NCCOS identified high sediment concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordane, nickel, and chromium while characterizing the coral reef ecosystem in Guánica Bay. After the contaminants were identified, NCCOS, with support from NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, determined their extent and magnitude, conducted preliminary source tracking, and then recruited academic partners to investigate the potential human health impacts. Studies from the University of Miami show elevated levels of PCBs in bay sediment, fish samples, and blood samples from Guánica residents. Read more.

Puerto Rico Gets $3 Million for Innovative Climate Projects

Date: April 19, 2023

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) have announced that Puerto Rico will receive $3 million to plan innovative strategies to cut climate pollution and build clean energy economies across the commonwealth, according to a report by NimB.

In March, the EPA announced the availability of the funds, which represent the first funding going to states, local governments, tribes, and territories from the Climate Pollution Reduction Grants program created by the Inflation Reduction Act.

Later this year, the EPA will launch a competition for $4.6 billion in funding to implement projects and initiatives included in the plans. Puerto Rico will be eligible to receive that implementation funding because it has opted in to receive the planning grant.

The San Juan metro area is among the 67 most populous metropolitan areas in the nation with the opportunity to receive $1 million each to develop regional planning grants with key stakeholders in their area, the EPA said.

Lead agencies in these metropolitan areas must submit a notice of intent to participate by April 28. Communities that do not rank in the top 67 most populous areas will have opportunities to partner with their states and neighboring jurisdictions. Read more.

Puerto Rican HVAC Engineering Firm Honored as Top Government Contractor

Date: April 19, 2023

Multi-Air Services Engineers, Corp (MASE) has been named Graduate Firm of the Year by the US Small Business Administration, as reported by In 2005, Israel Alvarez founded MASE with Israel Alvarez Sr. and brother Carlos. Headquartered in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, MASE provides comprehensive services related to the installation of commercial and industrial HVAC equipment in public and private facilities.

In Puerto Rico, no small business federal contractors were offering a comprehensive approach to maintaining and operating federal facilities. The government had been installing smart controls in federal buildings, but smaller maintenance contractors were not keeping pace with the emerging technology. MASE offered federal government programming for HVAC construction projects as well as building automation services.

To help meet this need and expand his business, Israel Alvarez turned to the SBA for guidance and support. He is a graduate of both, the SBA Emerging Leaders and the 8(a) Program. During the pandemic, he received an SBA loan to continue operations. After graduating from the 8(a) program in 2018, MASE generated $5.4M in revenues. At the end of 2022, revenue reached $10.5M. Read more.

Government Releases $1 Billion Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Relief Package

Date: March 14, 2023

The US Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office recently released a Request for Information to gather feedback from stakeholders in Puerto Rico on how to allocate $1 billion managed through the Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund, reports PV magazine.

After recent hurricanes and decades of underinvestment in the island’s electric grid, the new funding will be developed to increase energy resilience and reduce the energy burden on the Caribbean island’s vulnerable residents. The US investment also aligns with Puerto Rico’s public energy policy to achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050 as well as the Biden Administration’s commitment to improving the island’s energy system. Read more.

San Juan Cruise Port Files Permits to Upgrade Infrastructure

Date: March 14, 2023

San Juan Cruise Port, the Puerto Rican company selected by the island’s government to repair, rebuild, maintain, and operate the San Juan cruise ports under a public-private partnership (P3) with the Puerto Rico Ports Authority, announced the filing of documentation to obtain permits from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to upgrade the port infrastructure.

As News is My Business reported, the 30-year agreement between the Ports Authority and San Juan Cruise Port entails a private capital investment of more than $400 million to meet the infrastructure and modernization needs of the Ports Authority’s piers. Read more.

Puerto Rico Launches Tender to Modernize Urban Train System

Date: February 9, 2023

Puerto Rico is advancing with a plan to modernize its urban train system (Tren Urbano) and rehabilitate stations, according to BNamericas.

The transport and public works ministry DTOP published tender S-23-12 on the government’s procurement website for the Tren Urbano project. The head of DTOP, Eileen Vélez Vega, said last month that Tren Urbano has been operating for almost 20 years and is in need of modernization.

Through the tender, it will procure “the services of a program management consultant to provide project management and administration support; design, and engineering oversight; procurement, project controls, and quality assurance support; and adjunct professional services as needed for the implementation of the project.”

The bidding rules will be available on demand from February 10-May 26 at the offices of DTOP. A virtual information meeting will be held on March 14 and proposals can be submitted until May 31. Read more.

Puerto Rico National Guard Breaks Ground on $300M Camp Santiago Projects

Date: February 9, 2023

The Puerto Rico National Guard recently began engineering and reconstruction projects at Camp Santiago in Salinas. Nearly $300 million in federal funds is designated for military construction. These projects, according to NimB, will last approximately five years and are expected to generate 400 direct and 200 indirect jobs.

“In 2017 Hurricane María impacted the entire island of Puerto Rico and military installations were no exception. Many of our readiness centers were severely damaged, but Camp Santiago Joint Training Center was the most affected of all,” said General Daniel Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

“More than 60% of the center’s transient training facilities were damaged beyond repair. As a result, collective and individual training opportunities have been limited,” Hokanson said. Read more.

Biden-Harris Administration Invests in Rural Economy and Equitable Access in Puerto Rico

Date: January 18, 2023

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on January 9 announced that the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service will invest $1 million to improve access to El Yunque National Forest, according to a news release.

This investment is meant to ensure rural communities have equitable access to the infrastructure and economic opportunities they need to grow and thrive.

“El Yunque is a special place to the people of Puerto Rico and USDA is committed to investing in the Forest to promote visitation, recreation, and economic development -- outcomes that can be maximized through collaboration and partnerships with the public and private sector,” said Secretary Vilsack. Read more.

People-Centered Internet Launches Puerto Rico Prosperity Initiative

The People-Centered Internet (“PCI”) is launching the “Puerto Rico Prosperity Initiative” (“PRPI”), an initiative designed to bring businesses, nonprofit organizations, and governmental agencies together to provide increased digital access to key resources and services from the government for future prosperity.

PCI, who developed the Digital Recovery Plan for Puerto Rico under FEMA, is engaging with partners from the US government, Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce (“DEDC”), the private sector, and local communities to act on key mandates to improve energy and communications infrastructure.

“Puerto Rico is an emerging testing ground for digitization, as $120 billion in federal funding flows to the people of Puerto Rico and the beachhead for the Federal Long-Term Plan for Resilience and Recovery,” said Jascha Stein, PCI’s chief strategy officer. Learn more.

Year One of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Date: January 18, 2023

The Biden Administration recently updated state and territory fact sheets that highlight the nationwide impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the largest long-term investment infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. To date, over $947 million in funding has been announced and is headed to Puerto Rico. Access information about Puerto Rico projects here.

$6 Billion Undersea Power Line Between Puerto Rico, US East Coast in Development

Date: December 20, 2022

Alternative Transmission Inc. is developing a $5.5 billion to $6 billion undersea transmission project between the mainland United States and Puerto Rico to bring lower cost, reliable power to the island, the Utility Dive reports.

The project, called Project Equity, could deliver 2.1 GW from up to two points on the East Coast to up to two locations on Puerto Rico, an island beset by power outages caused by hurricanes and earthquakes. ATI intends to deliver power that would evolve towards being entirely renewable while reducing the effects of natural disasters on Puerto Rico’s power system. Read more.

Virtual Power Plant Will Reduce Pollution, Lower Energy Costs

Date: November 17, 2022

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority has chosen Sunrun, a solar, battery storage, and energy services company to help rebuild and transform the island’s energy system through the development of a 17-megawatt virtual power plant, the first distributed large-scale storage program on the island.

The plant will help lower energy costs for all consumers, reduce pollution island-wide and help harden Puerto Rico’s fragile grid with reliable, abundant solar energy by networking together more than 7,000 Sunrun solar-plus-battery systems installed on homes. Sunrun will spend the next year enrolling customers into the program and begin networked dispatches in 2024. Read more.

DOE Selects First-Ever Director of Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team

Date: November 17, 2022

The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Agustín Carbó has been selected to serve as the director for the new Puerto Rico Grid Modernization and Recovery Team (PR Grid Modernization Team). The PR Grid Modernization Team will support Puerto Rico in rebuilding an electricity grid that is more resilient, more secure, and capable of supporting 100% clean electricity by 2050.

In early October, following devastating Hurricane Fiona, President Biden announced the PRGrid Modernization Team. The PR Grid Modernization Team will work across the federal government—including with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Commerce—to coordinate technical assistance and access federal funding in an expeditious and strategic manner.

The team will work closely with government leadership in Puerto Rico to help identify and overcome impediments to rapid infrastructure deployment to provide the island with clean, reliable, and affordable power and to expedite current rebuilding activities. Read more.

Rooftop Solar Kept the Lights on for Many After Fiona

Date: October 18, 2022

After Hurricane Fiona knocked out power on Puerto Rico, leaving thousands of residents powerless for weeks, those with solar panels or access to other renewables were able to keep the lights on, Politico reports. This is being cited as evidence of solar power’s effectiveness during storms and the value of renewable power in the face of climate change.

Energy analysts have reportedly said the incident could boost interest in solar power in states like Florida and could influence policymaking regarding incentives for the technology.

Arecibo Observatory to Become STEM Education Center

Date: October 18, 2022

It was recently announced the Arecibo Telescope would not be rebuilt after damage from Hurricane Maria and earthquakes caused its collapse. However, the US National Science Foundation plans to build a new multidisciplinary, world-class educational center at the Arecibo Observatory that will be a hub for STEM education and outreach.

The new center would expand upon existing education and outreach opportunities at the observatory site, while also implementing new STEM programs and initiatives. The center is expected to open in 2023, according to a news release.

Many astronomers and scientists with ties to the telescope are expressing great disappointment with the decision not to repair the telescope. But the NSF says scientific community has expressed broad support for an expanded educational facility. Specifically, the 2020 Decadal Survey for Astronomy and Astrophysics, or Astro2020, recognized that the observatory has, over the course of its nearly 60-year history, become a highly regarded part of the community for many of Puerto Rico’s citizens, serving as a source of pride and local economic benefit while also providing access to training and employment for many in the community.

The goals of the center would be to:

  • Promote STEM education, learning, and teaching.
  • Support fundamental and applied STEM and STEM education research.
  • Broaden participation in STEM.
  • Build and leverage existing and new collaborations and partnerships.

The center would have four primary functions aligned to its goals:

  • Engage the public in STEM through education and outreach activities.
  • Develop and implement a research and workforce development program.
  • Support participation of individuals from underrepresented groups in STEM education and research.
  • Cultivate and build authentic partnerships within and outside of Puerto Rico.

Biden Administration Approves Major Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico

Date: September 22, 2022

FEMA announced on September 22 that federal disaster assistance has been made available to Puerto Rico to supplement territorial and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Fiona. This action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in 55 municipalities within the commonwealth, according to a news release.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster. Individuals can apply for disaster assistance at, by calling 800-621-3362, or by using the FEMA app.

Water Infrastructure Projects Open for Bidding

Date: September 22, 2022

Puerto Rico is accepting bids for new water infrastructure projects in central and southern areas that will total nearly $48 million, reports.

The projects include:

  • The construction of two sanitary pump stations and the installation of equipment to replace the Patillas wastewater treatment plant;
  • Design and construction of emergency work at the Caguas wastewater treatment plant, which include “civil, structural, mechanical, and electrical work, to prepare a bypass for the rehabilitation of the inlet channels of the pump station, put in service existing equipment and the rehabilitation of the process units;” and
  • The rehabilitation of trunk sewers that convey raw sewage to the Caguas wastewater treatment plant. Read more.

Transportation Authority Files Fiscal Plan to Omit Debt

Date: September 22, 2022

The Puerto Rico Oversight Board filed a possible final Highways and Transportation Authority plan of adjustment in early September, reports. In late August, a compromise was reached on a dispute that had pitted Assured Guaranty against Nuveen and Franklin Advisors and presented a hurdle to the plan.

The HTA was created for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining Puerto Rico’s toll road network, major highways, and mass transportation facilities. The plan settles about $2.2 billion of debt.

The Biden Administration recently allocated millions for infrastructure projects in 22 states and Puerto Rico, including $90 million for road improvements in Mayaguez.

Head of EPA Pledges Support for Island Infrastructure Projects

Date: August 17, 2022

EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced new funding for Puerto Rico from the bipartisan infrastructure law during a recent visit to the island as part of his environmental justice tour. He visited the polluted Caño Martín Peña tidal channel in the San Juan Bay Estuary, and a neighborhood near a coal-powered generator operated by AES Corp. at the south of the island, where residents complain about coal ash, according to Reuters.

Regan promised $900,000 annually for five years for Puerto Rico’s estuary program and $78 million to fund water infrastructure projects. Also, the EPA recently sent a violation notice to AES for exceeding mercury limits at its coal plant in Guayama.

During his visit, Regan heard from locals who said they are frustrated with the lack of infrastructure support for disadvantaged communities and a dearth of investment in clean energy.

New Software Enables Planning for Weather Impacts on Electrical Grid

Date: August 17, 2022

The US Department Of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has come up with a solution for maintaining a more resilient power grid for Puerto Rico, news wise reports.

The laboratory’s Electrical Grid Reliance and Assessment System helps experts visualize power grid reliability and make recommendations for recovery, and facilitates simulations of storm impacts on the grid. The software was developed with FEMA funds.

The Puerto Rico Energy Power Authority and LUMA Energy are now using EGRASS to study and plan for extreme weather events and potential impacts on the electrical grid, to help identify data and knowledge gaps in order to protect the system.

PREPA Ordered to Give Customers $44 Million

Date: July 20, 2022

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau has ordered the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) to give energy customers a $44 million cut in their utility bills, The San Juan Daily Star reports. Officials from the agency said they discovered that FEMA had reimbursed PREPA for $44 million in fuel expenditures in March.

Also, the agency ordered LUMA Energy to make adjustments to certain aspects of its bills, such as fuel. These changes will go into effect in August and end in September.

Utility Company Sued for Allegedly Not Providing Water

Date: July 20, 2022

Puerto Rico’s Aqueduct and Sewer Authority is facing a lawsuit for allegedly not providing services to thousands of residents who lack potable water on a daily basis.

Carmen Maldonado, mayor of the northern town of Morovis, brought the class-action lawsuit, according to ABC News. The lawsuit represents nearly 1,600 residents and seeks $1,000 for every day spent without water as compensation, alleging that the lack of water has caused more than $55 billion in damages. Maldonado said the lack of water service has been a longstanding problem in Morovis and that it grew worse after Hurricane Maria hit.

The lawsuit stated that each day, an average of at least three wards within the municipality have no water service, and that the city has spent $1 million to truck in water for its residents.

Frustrated Residents Go for Clean Energy

Date: June 16, 2022

A grassroots solar energy movement is spreading in Puerto Rico, Grist reports. A growing number of residents are utilizing solar panels and batteries on their homes and businesses due to their discontent with the island’s unreliable electric grid. Many are also tired of high electric bills and the state-owned electric utility’s reliance on fuels, the article said.

More than 42,000 residents (eight times as many as in 2016) are enrolled in the island’s net metering program. Thousands more are also operating but go uncounted.

A recent report found that, by January households had installed at least 225 megawatts of combined solar capacity, equal to about 5.5% of total residential electricity demand.

Nonprofit Signs on to Create Recovery Plan for Coamo

Date: June 16, 2022

The Institute for Building Technology and Safety announced it has signed an agreement with the Autonomous Municipality of Coamo, Puerto Rico, to develop its Municipal Recovery Plan.

The MRP Program, funded by the US Department of Housing’s Community Development Block Grants for Disaster Recovery, is administered by the Puerto Rico Department of Housing. Coamo’s recovery plan will address conditions created or exacerbated by the devastating hurricanes of 2017. The goal is to improve the lives of citizens and improve the community’s resilience, sustainability, and its economy.

Coamo will have a team of experts in municipal planning and long-term community recovery, including engineering firm ATCS, which specializes in transportation, traffic planning, geospatial, and other disciplines. The community will also receive aid from federal grant programs. Read more.

Cyberattack Targets Toll Collection System

Date: May 16, 2022

Puerto Rican authorities said hackers targeted an electronic toll collection system called AutoExpreso, run by private operator Professional Account Management, the Associated Press reported in April. Other cyberattacks have plagued the island in recent years, as well.

Back in 2020, an online scam tried to steal more than $4 million from Puerto Rican government agencies, forcing authorities to freeze nearly $3 million. Also that year, hackers targeted the database of Puerto Rico’s fire department and demanded $600,000 in an alleged extortion act.

Nonprofit Laying the Groundwork for Solar Power

Date: May 16, 2022

About 400 homes and businesses in the central Puerto Rican community of Adjuntas have solar power, thanks to Casa Pueblo. The nonprofit, which works toward conservation, has helped provide a small solar network for the area that can withstand blackouts using backup batteries, the New York Times reported.

During outages, the organization’s headquarters can also be used by people who use medical devices that need to be powered. Casa Pueblo’s solar installations are funded by local and international foundations, and by sales of coffee grown in Adjuntas. The organization is working to spread solar power in other parts of Puerto Rico, as well.

Just 2.5% of the island’s energy comes from solar power in large part due to the cost of solar panels being a barrier for many residents.

Grid Resilience Study Will Establish Energy Pathways

Date: April 19, 2022

An analysis led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is underway to give Puerto Rico options for achieving a renewable, reliable, and equitable electric power system.

The study, Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transition to 100% Renewable Energy, will leverage the most advanced US research capabilities across multiple Department of Energy national laboratories to de-risk Puerto Rico's investments in modern, intelligent, and affordable grid infrastructure.

The study, directed by DOE's Office of Electricity in partnership with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, will establish clean energy pathways for Puerto Rico through 2050. The pathways will be locally tailored and will prioritize key questions around the island’s future power grid, such as its reliability during extreme weather, its equitability for all residents, and its impact on local economies.

Water Infrastructure Gets a Multi-million Dollar Boost

Date: April 19, 2022

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority recently announced it would invest $51.5 million in infrastructure projects in nine towns, including Arecibo, Barceloneta, San Lorenzo, Caguas, Culebra, Vieques, Naguabo, Hormigueros and Mayagüez.

The projects will be open to bids and will include design and rehabilitation work, pipeline repairs and construction, additions and improvements to water distribution systems, and other general infrastructure improvements.

The projects will be financed with PRASA’s own funds, allocations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Community Development Block Grant Program, and the State Drinking Water Revolving Fund Program. Read more.

Governor Pietro Cancels Electric Power Authority Restructuring Deal

Date: March 14, 2022

Governor Pedro Pierluisi’s administration has cancelled a proposed debt restructuring deal for the Electric Power Authority, NBC News reports. The agency holds $9 billion in debt; the restructuring was considered crucial for economic healing in Puerto Rico by economists.

The governor, however, said it was unfeasible because it wasn’t using smart fiscal practices and would leave the government with more debt than assets. At least one economist agreed, saying that the agreement would have resulted in higher power bills even while experiencing ongoing outages.

Nonprofit Trains Women for Skilled Jobs, Works Toward Water Supply Resiliency

Date: March 14, 2022

The Mesa Multisectorial del Bosque Modelo de Puerto Rico is a nonprofit organization that trains local women to install renewable energy systems in their communities that are rebuilding. The organization aims to promote sustainable development in Puerto Rico’s rural communities while promoting resiliency.

According to DirectRelief, Bosque Modelo is striving to not only develop renewable energy and an uninterrupted water supply, but also to add jobs to the region.

Cooperative Initiative Will Spur Modernization and Energy Projects in Puerto Rico

Date: February 16, 2022

The US Department of Energy, the Departments of Homeland Security and Housing and Urban Development, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have launched a new effort to accelerate work to strengthen the island’s grid resilience and advance new initiatives to enhance Puerto Rico’s energy future. The parties created a Memorandum of Understanding that enhances collaboration among Federal agencies and the commonwealth, and kickstarts the PR100 Study.

The PR100 Study is a community-driven and locally-tailored roadmap to help the island meet its target of 100% renewable electricity, improve power sector resiliency, and increase access to more affordable energy and cleaner air, according to a news release from DHS. Dozens of grid modernization projects will start construction this year, and Puerto Rico’s utility will sign contracts for at least 2GW of renewable energy and 1GW of energy storage projects. The plan is in line with the Biden Administration’s 2050 goal of a net-zero carbon economy.

Biden's Infrastructure Plan Allocates Millions for Bridge Repairs in Puerto Rico

Date: January 22, 2022

Under President Biden's infrastructure plan that infuses $26.5 billion into bridge repair across the US, Puerto Rico will receive $225 million. The funds will come over five years via the Federal Highway Administration. Aside from making much-needed repairs, a major goal of the funding is to help bridges withstand the effects of climate change by modernizing them, FHWA Administrator Stephanie Pollack said.

Reconstruction Sorely Needed in Six Areas, Engineers and Surveyors Warn

Date: January 22, 2022

Six main areas of infrastructure in Puerto Rico are in serious need of reconstruction to ensure the health of the island and its economy, according to the College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico.

The group said areas needing urgent attention include: electric power, water, waste management, transportation, communications, and structural seismic resilience, the Weekly Journal reported. Also, two areas closely related to infrastructure, permits and economic development, were identified.

Manufacturing was identified as the most important sector of Puerto Rico's economy. To keep it thriving, improvements were recommended to power and water transportation infrastructure, in addition better import and export routes and the creation of modern industrial parks.

Coastal Management Strategy Update Underway

Date: December 15, 2021

The Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources has begun updating its coastal management strategy for 2023-25 as part of the island's participation in the federal Coastal Zone Enhancement Program. Of concern are rising sea levels, polluted runoff, and strategies for protecting Puerto Rico's coastlines and coral reefs, which are crucial to the island's economy thanks to tourism.

Public comment will be accepted for several months as the strategy is completed, the Pew Trusts reports. Once it is approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Puerto Rico will receive funding to implement the plan.

Lawmakers Ask Army Corps to Focus on Caño Martín Peña Project

Date: December 15, 2021

Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott recently wrote a letter urging the US Army Corps of Engineers to dedicate resources to completing a list of projects, including the Caño Martín Peña project. The ecosystem restoration and flood control initiative aims to improve water quality, restore the watershed's ecosystem, and address serious public health and safety issues in afflicted neighborhoods in San Juan.

Read more from ENLACE Caño Martín Peña, an environmental justice and social transformation initiative that aims to restore the estuarine channel.

New York to Aid Puerto Rico in Solar Workforce Development

Date: November 17, 2021

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced this month that her state will work to expand solar power initiatives and workforce development support in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

New York State will provide new curriculum and permitting and financing expertise that will support the development of solar industries on the islands. This is a part of continued efforts by the state to help the islands recover after Hurricanes Irma and Maria and to further develop green energy and an associated workforce.

In 2019, the $4.5 million Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, Workforce and Small Business Development Program was established with support from the US Economic Development Administration.

Find out more.

Billions Go Unspent in Infrastructure Funding

Date: November 17, 2021

FEMA and other US government agencies have allocated billions of dollars for Puerto Rico to rebuild and strengthen its electrical infrastructure. However, some say that money has gone largely unspent due to a leadership vacuum and mismanagement, according to Solar Power World.

To obtain earmarked funds from FEMA, Puerto Rico must submit applications for projects to be funded. Luma Energy, formerly PREPA, the island's only electrical utility, failed to do that this fall. Renewable energy advocates would like to see the thousands of residential solar installations already on the island used together as a virtual power plant. But Luma has focused on obtaining energy from fossil fuels.

More Storm-Resistant Housing Coming to Puerto Rico

Date: October 20, 2021

More than 140 homes are being built with sustainable materials in Puerto Rico by renewable solar and wind technologies company EnerDynamic Hybrid Technologies Corporation, according to The Weekly Journal. The construction of the new homes is part of the Hurricane Maria recovery effort and will cost $21 million.

The company originally built 200 of the houses, which are virtually indestructible cinderblock solar-powered homes, last year. According to the company, the houses are built to net-zero standards using R30 insulation in the external walls and R22 in the roof, providing thermal resistance and enhanced home energy efficiency. The houses are built using unskilled labor in 60 days, twice as fast as an average home. Also, no wood or sheet rock is used, so there is no danger of mold if the structure is flooded. The homes can withstand winds of over 200 m.p.h. and are powered by EHT’s "no-glass" solar panels that are resistant to impacts from flying storm debris.

Are Small Modular Reactors in Puerto Rico’s Future?

Date: September 15, 2021

The Nuclear Alternative Project is advancing its consideration of small modular reactors for Puerto Rico, reports World Nuclear News. After concluding that such a deployment was feasible, NAP is now looking at siting requirements. Results of a study currently underway “will help to move the discussion how the sites will fit and how they will align with the minigrids already planned,” said Eddie Guerra of NAP. While solar is taking an ever-increasing share of the island’s energy production, an NAP feasibility study said only nuclear reactors can complement the intermittency of renewable power sources with zero-emission baseload power generation.

One potential site is on the island’s north coast near an industrial hub; the other on its east coast at the former Roosevelt Roads Naval Station.

Port Authority Requests Funds for Pier Improvement

Date: September 15, 2021

The Puerto Rico Port Authority has requested $10 million from the US Maritime Administration to improve Pier 15 in the Isla Grande de San Juan sector, The Weekly Journal reports. After Hurricane Maria, FEMA found the pier to be in critical structural condition. If awarded, the grant would be historic. The amount requested is 80% of the total estimated repair costs, $12.5 million, under the Port Infrastructure Development Program.

Biden’s Working Group on Puerto Rico Holds First Meeting

Date: August 11, 2021

In late July, a White House Working Group on Puerto Rico held its first meeting. The group discussed the president’s plan for the island and his commitment to supporting a full recovery from Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the 2020 earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic. This means not just rebuilding but investing in the long-term resilience of the island so its infrastructure can withstand future disasters.

The working group included 22 high-ranking government officials who received briefings from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Departments of Housing and Urban Development, Education, and the Treasury. The agencies discussed their efforts toward taking a holistic approach to helping the island.

Local Companies Participate in FEMA-Financed Rebuilding Efforts

Date: August 11, 2021

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently announced another round of $299 million to rebuild Puerto Rico’s roads and bridges, The Weekly Journal reports. Eileen Vélez Vega, the island’s transportation secretary, said 100 projects have begun, and 22 local companies were subcontracted for the work, helping the local economy as rebuilding begins.

Manufacturing Grew in Puerto Rico Over Past Year

Date: July 21, 2021

In Puerto Rico, the manufacturing industry index showed growth for 12 consecutive months, The Weekly Journal reports. When comparing April 2021 with April 2020, the Index of Coincident Indicators in Manufacturing reflected 9% growth.

The secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce of Puerto Rico said the cargo and passenger transshipment waiver granted by the federal government positions Puerto Rico as an important destination for specialized manufacturing in its geographic basin. He explained that the raw material for pharmaceutical, bioequivalent, medical device, and aerospace comes by boat and leaves by plane. “This project,” he said, “will help retain the industries that are operating in Puerto Rico and will attract new investment from other continents.”

Puerto Rico Receives Funds for Water Infrastructure Repairs

Date: July 21, 2021

Under the Biden-Harris administration, the island will receive about $300,000 for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, out of a total of $307 million being given to US states and territories by the Department of Agriculture.

Puerto Rico’s allocations are earmarked to make extensive repairs to the community aqueduct for the municipality of Aguas Beunas, including the water distribution lines, a power generator for the pump station, and the facility in which the generator is housed, all of which were damaged or made necessary by Hurricane Maria.

Federal Dollars Allocated to Runway Reconstruction

Date: June 7, 2021

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted $19.38 million to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan to reconstruct a runway. The funds are part of a total of $898.9 million in infrastructure and safety projects grants, which are meant to address safety, efficiency, environmental stewardship, infrastructure and security.

Study Addresses Latest Challenges to Infrastructure Recovery

Date: June 7, 2021

Although FEMA has obligated $23.8 billion to Puerto Rico to help the island recover from the 2017 hurricanes, the 2019 and 2020 earthquakes, and the COVID-19 pandemic, a federal study explains that challenges are hampering the recovery effort. Among the challenges, Puerto Rico agencies have difficulty accessing funds to start construction and staff lack the expertise to develop thousands of projects. Procuring labor, equipment and materials has also contributed to delays.

The study recommends that FEMA, in coordination with Puerto Rico and relevant federal agencies, identify and assess the risks to Puerto Rico’s recovery, including its capacity to carry out projects, and identify potential actions to manage the risks.

Seaweed Farm Could Cut Ocean Acidification

Date: June 7, 2021

Researchers have installed the first seaweed farm in Puerto Rico and the US in the waters off the island’s southern coast. They are experimenting with seaweed because it has been shown to help reduce ocean acidification, reduce water pollution, and support the largescale production of biomass, the University of Chicago reports.

Paseo Puerta de Tierra Coastline Deemed Unsafe

Date: May 14, 2021

The coastline that makes up San Juan’s Paseo Puerta de Tierra is unsafe due to the imminent danger of a landslide, the College of Engineers and Surveyors of Puerto Rico warned at a public hearing in May, the Weekly Journal reports. The area is a danger to pedestrians and is unstable for area highways, the group told the House Committee on Economic Development and Planning.

Engineers who investigated the terrain said a diversion should be created for runoff waters. Affected structures, including a pedestrian promenade and roadways on the coastline, would be destroyed in the event of the impact of a future cyclone, they said. The group recommended the immediate implementation of emergency protocol.

Utility Sectors, Manufacturing, and Info Tech Pay Highest Salaries

Date: May 14, 2021

In Puerto Rico, the water and power utility sectors have the highest mean salaries, at $62,400, compared to the average salary of $25,332 a year, reports the University of Puerto Rico’s Census Information Center. The center has found a great disparity among income across various sectors, NimB reports. Among the largest sectors, only manufacturing ($37,073) and information technology ($42,370) pay the highest average salaries that exceed Puerto Rico’s total average.

Road Rebuilding to Receive Hundreds of Millions in Funding

Date: April 16, 2021

The Department of Transportation and Public Works plans to spend about $200 million on roadway repair projects in Puerto Rico this year. FEMA spent $400 million after hurricanes damaged roads on the island in 2017 and earthquakes hit last year. Currently, 25 projects are planned and requests for bids will be issued soon, with another 17 planned for later in the year, according to In total, the Federal Highway Administration estimates $575 million in damages were done to Puerto Rico’s roads in 2017 alone.

Widespread Renewable Energy Possible in 15 Years, Report Says

Date: April 16, 2021

Seventy-five percent distributed renewable energy on the island is possible by the year 2035, with little to no upgrades to current infrastructure, according to a new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.

Equipping 100% of homes with solar panels and supplementing with installations at commercial sites would cut imported fossil fuel costs to $430 million per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 70%, the report states. Also, IEEFA reports that the solar collection and storage technology could be deployed immediately, rather than dedicating resources to increased natural gas infrastructure, which is vulnerable to natural disasters.

Road and Bridge Improvements are Underway

Date: March 18, 2021

Thanks to nearly $37 million recently allocated by the Department of Transportation and Public Works, repairs to roadways and bridges that had already begun with $729 million from FEMA will continue with renewed momentum.

Work made possible by the added funding will include road reconstruction projects such as asphalting, stabilizing retaining walls, and replacing guardrails, the Weekly Journal reports. Utuado is the municipality with the most projects, totaling 256 approved for $53.6 million.

Biotech Firms Opening Manufacturing Plants

Date: March 18, 2021

Two biotech firms are investing a total of $228 million to open manufacturing facilities in Puerto Rico, NimB reports. This will create 400 jobs on the island. The plants will produce various biotech products, including a COVID-19 vaccine. Puerto Rico has 20,000 jobs in medical device manufacturing and has a concentration of expertise in this area at 5.5 times the national rate.

Study: Less Centralized, Renewable Power Safer As Hurricanes Increase

Date: February 11, 2021

Research that used Puerto Rico as a test case demonstrates that using scattered renewable energy sources will modernize power grids and be less costly than repairing hurricane damage to a centralized grid. The research, done in part by University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez, was recently published in the journal Nature Energy.

Board Initiates Transportation Changes

Date: February 11, 2021

The Puerto Rico Oversight Board approved measures to reorganize the governance of the transportation sector, improve the management of the sector, and increase its funding. This could have a major effect on the central government’s and the Highway Transportation Authority’s debts. Board staff advocated reorganizing the different Puerto Rico government transportation entities so they each manage only one class of transportation, BondBuyer says.

FEMA Awards $313 for Earthquake Emergency Measures, Rebuilding

Date: January 27, 2021

A year after several earthquakes wreaked havoc in central, southern, and western Puerto Rico, the Federal Emergency Management Agency approved nearly $313.5 million for emergency measures, rebuilding public facilities, and to assistance for thousands of survivors, the Weekly Journal reported. About $71.5 million was approved for 14,000 survivors who lost their homes or whose homes suffered catastrophic damage.

Puerto Rico’s Ocean Energy Development Enters Next Phase

Date: January 27, 2021

WSP USA Building, a more than 130-year old company with expertise in engineering large infrastructure projects, and Puerto Rico-based Marvel Architects have been chosen to lead development of the Puerto Rico Ocean Technology Complex. The $300 million project will be located in Yabucoa on Puerto Rico’s southeast coast and will be based around a 5-10MW ocean thermal energy conversion plant, PEi reports. The project’s goal is to make the state a leader in the development of OTEC and spin-off technologies and products.

Partnership Brings Clean Water to Community

Date: December 16, 2020

Two emergency water backup systems are being donated to a school for special needs children in Barcoleneta. The systems are coming from a Virginia firm, Constant Water, and a nonprofit, United DMV, also from Virginia. Their partnership is in part of an effort to demonstrate water resilience methods to local communities.

Manufacturing Improves on the Island

Date: December 16, 2020

An uptick in manufacturing in Puerto Rico has been reported by the Statistics Institute, the Weekly Journal reports. The Purchasing Management Index reported in September indicated that production rose to 50, while employment levels rose to 52.8 after falling in August. A threshold of 50 represents the growth of manufacturing on the island since the previous month. The PMI had dipped to 48.1 in August, the lowest since April.

The Department of Economic Development and Commerce reports that there are 1,730 manufacturing companies in the island, which contribute over 48% of Puerto Rico's GDP. They provide about 74,500 jobs altogether.

Arecibo Observatory Suffers More Damage

Date: November 18, 2020

A second cable has fallen at the Arecibo Observatory, which suffered damage when an auxiliary cable snapped and hit the dish in August, according to the Weekly Journal. In November, additional damage was done to the dish and other cables when a main cable broke and fell. Officials haven’t determined why the main cable failed, but they suspect it is related to the extra load being carried since August. Both cables that broke were connected to the same tower.

No one was hurt. A safety area has been set up and engineers are working to stabilize the structure. Repair work addressing the initial damage had been expected the begin in early November. The firms WSP, Thornton Tomasetti, and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. were hired to do repairs at the facility, which is managed by the University of Central Florida in cooperation with Universidad Ana G. Méndez and Yang Enterprises Inc. for the National Science Foundation.

FEMA Funding to Improve Power Resiliency for Puerto Rico

Date: November 18, 2020

FEMA, in coordination with the Puerto Rico Central Office for Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience, or COR3, allocated more than $26.2 million to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority under the Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The funds will go toward the engineering and design phase for the installation of a new combined cycle generation plant at the Palo Seco Energy Plant, and the acquisition of eleven gas turbines for five additional PREPA facilities.

The project should cut down on the recovery time for power outages and shore up the island’s electrical grid, improving resilience during emergencies. After Hurricane Maria hit the island in 2017, it took 11 months for power to be restored.

Proposed Facility to Make Puerto Rico Leader in Ocean Tech

Date: October 28, 2020

A major government-led project has been proposed to make Puerto Rico a world leader in ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), and to revitalize local economic growth. The Puerto Rico Ocean Technology Complex (PROTech) initiative would focus on OTEC, which utilizes deep ocean waters, and an air conditioning system for the required facility. Additionally, byproducts of the process can be used in manufacturing other products, such as food components, cosmetics, and bottled water.

The OTEC facility would be the world’s first large-scale plant of its kind, with a capacity between 5-10MW, according to Power Engineering International. This would make Puerto Rico a global leader in the technology. The government projects the project could provide considerable economic and research opportunities.

Puerto Rico’s east-southeast coastline and favorable ocean floor conditions off the coast made it the ideal location for the complex. The initiative was prompted by destruction from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September 2017, according to the project roadmap. The complex would cost an estimated $120 million, with at least half earmarked for the OTEC facility.

Repairing and Safeguarding the Arecibo Observatory

Date: October 28, 2020

Engineers have been working to restore the Arecibo Observatory, the world’s strongest radio space telescope and an iconic Puerto Rican landmark, which was seriously damaged in August.

A cable securing its radio antenna snapped for unknown reasons, leaving a 100-foot gash in the 18-acre reflector dish. Engineering design and structural repairs are part of the ongoing effort, in addition to cable buckling studies, the creation of a safety assessment plan, forensic analysis, and the installation of a facility monitoring system.

The observatory, owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Central Florida, also suffered significant damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017, after which two grants of more than $14 million covered repairs and upgrading. This incident was unrelated to that damage.

The facility is famous for the discovery of the first Earth-like planet in our solar system and for substantial astronomical research over the years, including a study that led to the 1993 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of a binary pulsar and the first evidence of gravitational waves by Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor.

Are You the Next Federal Engineer of the Year?

Date: October 28, 2020

Honoring the commitment of federal engineers to innovation and service is the hallmark of the Federal Engineer of the Year Award. Nominations for the award, which attracts participation from more than a dozen federal agencies, are open until October 31.

The FEYA ceremony is scheduled for February 18, 2021, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Tickets will be available for sale in January and sponsorship opportunities are available.

NSPE 2018–19 President Michael Aitken, P.E., F.NSPE, recently visited the Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers.

Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers Photo

@NSPE @NSPEPrez May 8. NSPE President, Puerto Rico President and CIAPR President working together for the Professional Engineering profession in Puerto Rico. Collaborating for the protection of the public through Professional Licensure!

Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers Photo

@NSPE @NSPEPrez May 8. NSPE and the Puerto Rico Society of Professional Engineers collaborating for unity of the Professional Engineering Community in Puerto Rico. Thank you PRSPE, CIAPR President Ruiz and NSPE SE Region Director Carlos Gittens for your hard work.