This article was originally published by Climate Action and is republished with permission.
After Hurricane Maria hit the island, there has been increased interest in the potential of renewable energies in Puerto Rico, with Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeting on Thursday that the company can transform the energy supply of the island with the power of solar.
In a reply to a news article claiming that Puerto Rico is facing a big opportunity to improve its electricity grid and incorporate renewable energies to strengthen its grid, Elon Musk found the chance to reply through Twitter.
He tweeted: “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too”.
“Such a decision would be in the hands of the Puerto Rican Government, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR”.
Ricardo Rosselló, the Governor of Puerto Rico, replied: “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your TeslaTechnologies? Puerto Rico could be that flagship project”.
Puerto Rico’s electricity system was facing a lot of problems even before the hurricane hit the island.
The island’s sole electricity utility Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) is in $9 million debt, and the grid was suffering from often outages due to poor maintenance.
After the hurricane, nearly all 2,400 miles of the island’s aged power transmission lines were destroyed.
According to the latest data from the Puerto Rican Government, only 9.2 percent of the population currently has access to electricity.
Judith Enck, the former Environmental Protection Agency for Region 2 administrator, in an interview with Earther commented about the energy discourse in Puerto Rico: “This is an opportunity to completely transform the way electricity is generated in Puerto Rico and the federal government should support this”.
“They need a clean energy renewables plan and not spending hurricane money propping up the old fossil fuel infrastructure”.
Tesla has already done similar battery and solar power projects with the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii and in American Samoa.
In November 2016, Tesla turned the American Samoa almost 100 percent energy independent relying solely on solar power, by installing more than 5,300 solar panels and 60 Powerpacks, – a project that cost $8 million.
Earlier this year, Tesla completed a 50-acre solar farm of 13 MW installed capacity connected to Tesla Powerpacks for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii.
For this last project, Tesla signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) of $0.139/KWh for 20 years.
Despite the fact that Elon Musk argues that scalability is not an issue, both the islands that he has applied his vision to have significantly less population that the 3.5 million people of Puerto Rico.
Musk’s landmark company has already been sending hundreds of Powerwalls, with Tesla employees helping with the installation of the battery packs and the repair of solar panels.
Henry Pichardo, a solar installation firm in Puerto Rico, has said to the Reuters that Hurricane Maria could bust his business by at least 20 percent.
“People are going to become more conscious of how they are living, and invest more in solar”.
The Puerto Rico state owned electric company says that some households be without power for four to six months.
The Governor Ricardo Rosselló said on Monday that it could take one month to restore power to only a quarter of households in the island.
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