Puerto Rico’s energy system was inefficient and outdated before Hurricane Maria destroyed it. Now, the government is preparing to make a case to use federal emergency funds to create a newer, better grid to power the U.S. island, not just repair the old one.
Tesla and other companies specializing in solar and batteries may end up being the cornerstone to those plans, reported Bloomberg, which interviewed a key Puerto Rican official.
Department of Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel Laboy told Bloomberg the government officials are evaluating different options that focus on microgrids and regional grids that use solar and energy storage as well as other renewable sources.
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As of Monday, 23% of the island’s power has been restored.
Tesla is already involved in Puerto Rico’s recovery.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm in late September, causing widespread damage and knocking out electrical power to the entire island of 3.5 million residents. As soon as the storm passed, Tesla began sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels to the devastated island in an effort to restore electric power there. The Powerwall, which was first introduced in April 2015, is a battery designed for homes that store the energy generated by solar panels.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also personally donated $250,000 to the relief effort.
A week after the first Powerwalls were sent to Puerto Rico, Tesla CEO Elon Musk indicated that company could theoretically rebuild the U.S. territory’s electricity system with solar and battery systems.
Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello quickly chimed in and invited Musk to talk about making the island a flagship project for Tesla.
Tesla isn’t the only company that transform Puerto Rico’s power grid into a more stable, efficient, and less vulnerable system.
Officials are also talking with other companies, including Sonnen, Arensis Corp., and Sunnova Energy, according to the report.
Sonnen is already working with Puerto Rico. Following Hurricane Maria, the company teamed up with Pura Energia to assess damage and identify areas with the most pressing needs. Sonnen donated and installed its batteries in first aid centers, clinics, churches, and community centers. Sonnen is subsidizing Pura Energia’s installation costs for both the battery and solar arrays.