Starting in the first week of July, the Department of Housing will commence granting the initial incentives of up to $30,000 from the New Energy Program. This program allows low-income families who have obtained “turns” and meet the eligibility criteria to install solar panel systems and rechargeable batteries in their homes.
William Rodríguez Rodríguez, the Secretary of Housing, stated that out of the 3,380 shifts distributed by the agency for this first group of applicants, 335 families and their residences have already been qualified and are prepared to begin the process of purchasing and installing the alternative energy systems.
“Those 335 families are ready to receive the voucher, which has not yet been issued. We are currently in the process, which also includes an environmental review,” said Rodríguez Rodríguez, a lawyer by profession, in an interview with Primera Hora.
To be eligible for this group, households must have incomes of up to $11,700 for a one-person household and up to $22,000 for an eight-person household.
On April 27, when the program’s first round began, the appointment slots for requesting the incentive were sold out in less than an hour.
The secretary explained that to date, 2,346 families have completed and submitted their applications, of which 1,336 were deemed eligible and 27 were ineligible. Out of the eligible families, 335 properties have completed the process.
“We have 90 days to complete the process from the moment the application is received until the voucher is issued or the agreement is signed with the family to receive the benefit. Once the family receives the benefit and has the document in hand, they have up to $30,000 to install the system,” explained Rodríguez Rodríguez.
He added that once eligible participants receive the incentive, they must promptly contact one of the 73 registered companies to complete the installation.
“The installation is not done by us, nor does it necessarily depend on us. The family chooses one of the registered companies to complete the installation,” she said, emphasizing that the installation process is the responsibility of the families and must be completed within 12 months.
Primera Hora asked if it is possible for some people to have these systems installed before the hurricane season ends.
“I would hope so. I have spoken with industries that tell me they can complete the installation within a two-week period, but it depends on the workload of the companies,” said the head of Housing.
He could not specify the locations of the qualified program participants, but he mentioned that the shifts were distributed equitably throughout Puerto Rico. He also clarified that the eligible families do not necessarily represent one family per municipality, but they reflect the distribution of the shifts.
Who were eligible in this first round?
Out of the 1,336 eligible applicants, 804 are women, 532 are men, and one person did not specify their gender. Among the women, the majority (748) reported being the head of the family. In terms of age, the largest group of eligible individuals falls within the 71 to 80 age range, with 344 people. There are also 30 qualified individuals aged 91 and above, and 11 individuals aged 21 to 30.
Among the eligible applicants, 365 people identified themselves as disabled. In terms of race, the breakdown is as follows: 1,048 white, 214 black, 49 Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders, 20 Native American or Alaska Indians, and 6 Asians. Regarding ethnicity, 1,328 identified as Hispanic/Latino and 8 as non-Hispanic/Latino.
“Mostly, the applicants are unemployed due to their low income. This program targets those with ‘very low’ and ‘extremely low’ incomes,” said Rodríguez Rodríguez.
A total of 3,380 shifts were distributed, with approximately 3,000 being online and the rest being distributed at the Admission Centers of the New Energy Program located throughout Puerto Rico.
The Secretary of Housing specified that 59% of the 3,380 participants have submitted their applications, while the remaining 41% are in the process of doing so.
He mentioned that after receiving a shift, participants have up to 120 days to prove that they reside in a single-family home and that it is their primary residence. At least one household member must be a United States citizen or qualified alien. Applicants must also provide proof of ownership or ownership interest in the home, and their household income must not exceed the eligible income level for the program. Social Security income is not considered in the assessment.
Among other eligibility criteria, Rodríguez Rodríguez stated that the family must live in a concrete house, as apartments are not suitable for the installation of solar panels and rechargeable batteries. The resilience element of constant energy generation is provided by the solar panels.
The New Energy program is funded by $350 million in CDBG-MIT federal funds and aims to benefit 15,000 Puerto Rican families. The allocated funds for the program will expire in 2033. Detailed program specifications and requirements can be found on the website nuevaenergia.pr.gov.
Rodríguez Rodríguez mentioned that there will be a second round of incentives for this same group of low-income families, but a specific date has not yet been determined.
He also indicated that they plan to launch another incentive program soon for families with incomes of up to $88,000 per year, depending on family composition.
“Before the end of this year, we will have the next round for the middle class. We will distribute the shifts in consultation with the industry to avoid saturating the market and causing delays in installations,” he said.
“We want to issue the voucher promptly, so that the installation process can begin without delay,” added the official, emphasizing that the same method of sharing shifts will be used for the new group of families with higher incomes.
The article discusses the launch of the New Energy Program by the Department of Housing to provide incentives for low-income families in Puerto Rico to install solar panel systems and rechargeable batteries in their homes. The program offers grants of up to $30,000 and has received overwhelming response, with appointment slots for requesting incentives selling out in less than an hour. Out of the 3,380 shifts distributed in the first round, 335 families have already been qualified and are ready to begin the process of purchasing and installing the alternative energy systems. To be eligible, households must have incomes of up to $11,700 for a one-person household and up to $22,000 for an eight-person household. The installation process is the responsibility of the families and must be completed within 12 months. The majority of eligible applicants were reported to be unemployed due to low income, and the largest group belonged to the age range of 71 to 80. The distribution of shifts was done equitably throughout Puerto Rico.
What are the eligibility criteria for households to receive grants under the New Energy Program launched by the Department of Housing in Puerto Rico?
The eligibility criteria for households to receive grants under the New Energy Program launched by the Department of Housing in Puerto Rico may vary and it is recommended to consult specific program guidelines or contact the department directly for the most accurate and up-to-date information. However, some common eligibility criteria that may apply include:
1. Residency: The household must be a legal resident of Puerto Rico.
2. Income: The program may have income limits or requirements which the household must meet. This could be based on factors such as the number of people in the household and their income level.
3. Housing Type: The program may be specifically targeted towards certain types of housing, such as low-income housing or public housing.
4. Energy Efficiency: The household may need to demonstrate a need for energy-efficient improvements or upgrades to their home.
5. Application: The household will need to submit an application to be considered for the grant program.
It is important to note that these are general criteria and may not cover all the specific requirements of the New Energy Program. It is recommended to consult the official program documentation or contact the Department of Housing in Puerto Rico for detailed eligibility guidelines and application procedures.