- Tesla has promised to send hundreds of battery storage packs to help Puerto Rico, which is almost entirely without power after Hurricane Maria devastated the island two weeks ago, Bloomberg reports.
- Only about 5% of the grid is currently operating, The New York Times reports, and local government officials said it could be as long as six months before power is restored to the island's 3.5 million residents. Costs to rebuild the island's infrastructure, including the grid, could reach between $40 billion and $80 billion.
- Tesla's pledge highlights a growing conversation from power sector experts over the need to boost grid resilience using distributed energy technology, like solar-plus-storage and microgrids.
Tesla is keen on flexing the power of its battery packs in new territories dealing with hefty grid challenges. Months after the electric car manufacturer promised to build a 129 MW battery storage plant in 100 days to help Australia mitigate rolling blackouts, the company set its eyes on Puerto Rico.
The island is teetering on the cusp of a humanitarian crisis after Hurricane Maria devastated its power infrastructure two weeks ago, leaving the majority of 3.5 million residents in the dark and 42% without access to potable water. Coupled with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA)'s debt crisis, rebuilding the grid is a daunting task.
Already, PREPA's creditors have offered a new $1 billion loan and will discount some of its existing debt, allowing the utility to apply for matching federal aid funds to rebuild the grid. But how the utility will do so is unclear. Some power sector experts and clean energy advocates see this as an opportunity to invest in renewable energy and microgrids, boosting resilience.
Reuters reports Gov. Ricardo Rossello said his team is evaluating alternative ways to restore power, including microgrids.
The Solar Energy Industries Association also announced last week it plans to coordinate efforts to deliver solar supplies to the island. However, Greentech Media notes any such efforts will likely be small in scale and not enough to help Puerto Rico fully return power.