- The U.S. Department of Energy has identified 200 locations for potential microgrids on Puerto Rico that could help the island's power grid become more resilient, including 11 MW of capacity that could be used to power critical infrastructure such as water treatment plants and hospitals.
- A DOE blog post by Bruce Walker, assistant secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, also revealed details about the damage and recovery efforts, including that 18 substations were flooded in the storm and three could not be brought back online due to severe damage.
- In the two months since Hurricane Maria battered the island, about 58% of its generation has been brought back online and the recovery efforts have been overshadowed by a controversial restoration contract island officials signed with Montana-based Whitefish Energy.
In a blog post last week, DOE's Walker said he has spent more than two weeks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to assess recovery efforts, and "while there I saw successes, challenges, and opportunities."
While Puerto Rico has received more media coverage following the September storm, the U.S. Virgin Islands were also devastated by the hurricane.
Walker said he was on the islands "coordinating and working on recovery efforts" with the government of Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, industry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
"Deploying line crews and equipment to Puerto Rico and the [U.S. Virgin Islands] is more complicated than doing so on the mainland," he wrote. In Puerto Rico, 18 electrical substations were flooded and three were unable to be restored due to severe damage.
Among recovery efforts, he said PREPA made "two important decisions on power restoration," including to reestablish a 230 KW line tying the generation on the southern part of the island with demand on the north side. The second decision was to work with the Army Corps of Engineers to install two generators with a total of 50 MW at the Palo Seco generation plant.
DOE also has identified 200 locations for potential microgrids on Puerto Rico, including water treatment plants and hospitals, which could add 11 MW of capacity. Another 400 sites are being investigated.
"There are a number of other possibilities to improve the resilience of Puerto Rico’s grid, including relocating substations to less flood-prone areas, using simulations to identify better locations for wind and solar generation, integrating distributed energy resources, and hardening towers and other energy infrastructure on the island," Walker wrote.