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Rep. Soto, Members Request Funds Disbursement to Rebuild Electrical Grid in Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Congressman Darren Soto (FL-09) led a bipartisan, bicameral letter signed by 47 Members of Congress to President Trump’s Administration requesting the disbursement of funds, which were already appropriated, to improve and build a more resilient electric grid in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

After more than two years since Hurricane Maria devastated the electric infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and over a year after Congress passed the Budget Act of 2018, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has failed to disburse the already appropriated $2 billion Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds meant to enhance the electrical power systems in damaged areas.

“We urge the immediate publication of the Federal Register Notice detailing the administrative requirements for the disbursement of the $2 billion in CDBG-DR HUD funding,” stated Members in the letter. “We must strive to enable the prosperity of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by providing renewable, affordable, resilient, and reliable power.”

Full text of the letter is available below and final signed copy attached.

The 47 Members of Congress (10 Senators and 37 Representatives) who signed this request include: Sen. Charles E. Schumer (NY), Rep. Steny Hoyer (MD-05), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (MA), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT), Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (PR At Large), Sen. Bernard Sanders (VT), Rep. Stacey E. Plaskett (USVI), Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), Rep. José E. Serrano (NY-15), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (NY-07), Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ), Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (FL-20), Sen. Cory A. Booker (NJ), Rep. John Lewis (GA-05), Sen. Christopher S. Murphy (CT), Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Rep. Paul Tonko (NY-20), Rep. Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Rep. Juan Vargas (CA-51), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (NM-03), Rep. James P. McGovern (MA-02), Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32), Rep. Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Rep. Sean Casten (IL-06), Rep. Kathy Castor (FL-14), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (NY-09), Rep. Al Green (TX-09), Rep. Donna Shalala (FL-27), Rep. Albio Sires (NJ-08), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Rep. Donald M Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Rep. Michael F.Q. San Nicolas (Guam), Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Rep. Thomas R. Suozzi (NY-03), Rep. Eleanor Holmes-Norton (DC), Rep. Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Rep. Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04).

June 27, 2019

The Honorable Ben Carson
Secretary
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20410
The Honorable Rick Perry
Secretary
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20585

The Honorable Pete T. Gaynor
Acting Administrator
Federal Emergency Management Agency
500 C Street S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20472

The Honorable Mick Mulvaney
Director
The Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20503
Dear Secretary Carson, Secretary Perry, Acting Administrator Gaynor, and Director Mulvaney:

We write to urge the publication of the Federal Register Notice detailing the administrative requirements for the disbursement of the $2 billion Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) appropriated to improve and increase the resilience of the power grids in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. On February 9, 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123) was enacted into law. However, more than a year after enactment of the Act, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has failed to publish the Federal Register Notice to disburse the CDBG-DR funds needed to rebuild resilient power grids in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The $2 billion in CDBG-DR HUD funding is meant to enhance and improve the electrical power systems in areas damaged by Hurricane Maria. In order for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to gain access to the appropriated funds, HUD must first publish a Federal Register Notice of administrative requirements. However, nearly a year and a half after the Bipartisan Budget Act was passed, HUD has failed to provide the required notice. Without the publication of the Federal Register Notice, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will be unable to adequately establish action plans for the reconstruction of the electrical grids.

On April 11, 2019, Governor Ricardo Rossello signed S.B. 1121, Puerto Rico Energy Public Policy Act, into law. The purpose of this legislation is to transition Puerto Rico’s energy generation to 100% renewable energy by 2050. Through the Puerto Rico Electrical Power Authority (PREPA), Puerto Rico is striving to use $900 million of their appropriated CDBG-DR HUD funding to rebuild the grid with a focus on the generation and distribution of renewable power.[1] With the current high cost and unpredictability of power generation and distribution on the islands, the disbursement of the $2 billion in CDBG-DR HUD funding is essential to meet the goals of the Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands governments to alleviate power grid burdens.

Therefore, we urge the immediate publication of the Federal Register Notice detailing the administrative requirements for the disbursement of the $2 billion in CDBG-DR HUD funding to rebuild resilient, enhanced power grids in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We must strive to enable the prosperity of our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands by providing renewable, affordable, resilient, and reliable power. Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

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