by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Department of Energy secretary Jennifer Granholm is spending spring break on a taxpayer-funded trip to Puerto Rico this week, her fourth official visit to the island since October.
Granholm arrived in Puerto Rico on Monday and is scheduled to stay until Friday. Her public schedule listed three events during her first two days, including touring a technical college and visiting with a local homeowner. On Wednesday, she will tour a community solar project, host an energy and agriculture round table, and visit a bioenergy generation center. She will also attend a disabilities round table later in the week.
One of Granholm’s goals at DOE has been to help modernize Puerto Rico’s struggling power grid, which was nearly wiped out by Hurricane Maria in 2017. But her extended visits to the U.S. island—she has spent at least 10 official work days there since February—are raising eyebrows with energy experts, who questioned the necessity of the long junkets amid a global energy crisis.
“This trip will easily cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars between the advance teams, security, support staff, and more,” said one former DOE official.
“We are in the middle of a domestic and global energy crisis, and under her watch the American people are paying the price for this administration’s failed energy policies,” the former official added. “Unless Granholm is there installing the solar panels herself, there is no reason for her to be on the ground for that long.”
A DOE spokesperson defended the lengthy trips, telling the Washington Free Beacon that the “residents of Puerto Rico are American citizens who for too long have suffered from an unreliable electric grid due to needless obstacles and unnecessary delays preventing critical investments to improve the system.”