Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s antiquated and bankrupt electrical system, leaving tens of millions in the darkish and utility crews scrambling to assist.
Now some politicians and renewable vitality traders see a golden opportunity in the disaster to make use of federal funds to re-invent the US territory’s grid as a storm-resistant community that depends much less on pricey coal and oil imports and extra on native wind, photo voltaic and batteries.
If it occurs, it may ease energy payments on an island that struggles with the second-costliest electrical energy in the United States, behind Hawaii, in addition to infrastructure liable to failing in the area’s frequent hurricanes.
“We cannot waste the opportunity of this crisis and federal aid package,” mentioned Ramon Luis Nieves, a Puerto Rican politician in the Popular Democratic Party, who headed the island’s senate vitality committee till his time period expired in January.
“We need to focus on not only getting the grid back up but improving it so it can tolerate more renewable energy.”
A set of payments launched this week by US Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon would name on the Department of Energy to make the US electrical grid hardier in opposition to pure disasters and supply grants for small scale, grid-connected photo voltaic and different tasks.
A Wyden aide mentioned Puerto Rico’s utility, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, may apply for such grants to modernise the grid or get funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to rebuild after which apply for the grants to assist pay for upgrades.
About half of Puerto Rico’s electrical energy is generated from imported gas oil, with one other third coming from pure gasoline and far of the remaining from coal, in keeping with the Department of Energy.
Renewables provide about 2.four per cent, although the island has set a objective to acquire 20 per cent of its electrical energy from renewables by 2035.