Since the blackout, PREPA and Luma have presented a total of 20 projects, of which only two have been approved. But FEMA says that nearly 500 projects are needed.
Even though an island-wide blackout left Puerto Rico in the dark two weeks ago, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) and Luma Energy have made little progress on plans to improve the island’s power grid.
Hours after the outage, FEMA issued a written statement saying it had only received five proposals for the reconstruction and modernization of the island’s electrical system, even though nearly $9.5 billion have been approved since September 2020 for that purpose. According to FEMA, that’s the largest funding allocation in the history of the federal agency.
Since the blackout, PREPA and Luma have only presented a total of 20 projects, of which just two have been approved. But FEMA says in its reports that over 500 projects are necessary.
FEMA has only approved PREPA’s project for permanent repairs to the Mayagüez Hydro-Gas power plant , which was approved with a federal share of over $16.3 million. The other project approved was for the engineering and design phase to install a new combined-cycle generation plant at the Palo Seco Energy Plant in Cataño, with more than $26.2 million in funds.
For each project, the applicant must develop a detailed scope of work with its initial design in accordance with industry codes and standards. FEMA can only consider and approve a project once the applicant has completed all of these steps.
There is also an additional $1.9 billion available for the island’s electrical system. These funds have not been disbursed and were approved in 2018. This allocation will come out of the community development program to address disasters (CDBG-DR) under the jurisdiction of the federal Department of Housing.