Puerto Rico is taking a big step toward revamping how it gets power — and it could be a model for the rest of the US


WINDFARM FEATURE puerto rico blackout after Hurricane Maria

An estimated 1.5 million Puerto Ricans remain without power more than three months after Hurricane Maria lashed the US territory.
Early this month, the island’s energy commission unveiled a handful of proposed regulations that could revamp the island’s power grid.
Those proposals emphasize the importance of clean, renewable power from wind and solar — something experts say the rest of the US should embrace, too.

The lights are still out in more than half of Puerto Rico.

After Hurricane Maria struck the US territory on September 20, a crippling blackout descended over its 3.4 million residents, cutting communication between loved ones, spoiling food and life-saving medications, and nixing access to banks and clean water.

The death toll, initially estimated at 64, is now thought to be at least 1,000, according to a recent New York Times analysis.

More than three months after the storm, 1.5 million Puerto Ricans remain without power, and hundreds of thousands have no clean water.

It’s the result of an abused electric grid left to rot — and what’s happening in Puerto Rico could happen in many other parts of America.

Many mainland states depend on a dilapidated and crumbling network of coal-fired power plants and natural-gas pipelines for electricity, as does Puerto Rico. Many parts of the system are just one big natural disaster — superstorm, flood, wildfire, earthquake — away from being decimated.

“Generally speaking, the US gets about a D+ for things like this,” Vivek Shandas, an urban-planning professor at Portland State University, told Business Insider after the fall’s triple threat of hurricanes lashed Puerto Rico and mainland US. “Much of our infrastructure was built in the late 1800s and it’s beginning to fall apart.”

Yet some experts say the storms have offered up a silver-lining for Puerto Rico: the chance to rebuild better, stronger, and cleaner.

Early this month, the Puerto Rico Energy Commission unveiled a handful of proposed regulations designed to help nail down what the future of power will look like on the island.

The biggest takeaway after more than 50 companies and organizations weighed in was that microgrids — mini power networks like wind farms or solar arrays that can often function without direct links to the main grid — will play an important role in the territory’s energy future.

Experts say the rest of the US should follow suit.

‘This is a time where we could help Puerto Rico take a major level jump’

As in much of the mainland US, the power grid in Puerto Rico is more of a patchwork than a unified network. Most of the island’s large power plants lie on its southern coast, but most of its people live in the north, beyond mountainous terrain that makes distributing power difficult. Power plants owned by Puerto Rico’s bankrupt government-owned power authority, Prepa, are four decades old on average.

The week after Hurricane Maria slammed Puerto Rico and unleashed the single largest blackout in US history, Blake Richetta, the senior vice president of a renewable-energy company called …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech

      

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