Tesla's first Puerto Rico battery project is a microgrid at a children's hospital
- Tesla announced on Twitter yesterday that the company's first project as part of recovery efforts in Puerto Rico is a solar-plus-storage project at Hospital del Niño, a children's hospital on the island. The tweet included several images and said the project was "going live."
- Small renewable energy and battery-based projects are being deployed on the island while simultaneously efforts continue to rebuild the traditional grid. Since Hurricane Maria hit last month, diesel generators have been the only source of power for many.
- Tesla has also delayed an event to show off its electric semi truck, pushing the reveal back until next month while it focuses on restoring power in Puerto Rico.
As scrutiny grows regarding a small Montana company that landed a $300 million project to rebuild Puerto Rico's grid, microgrid projects focused on battery storage and solar energy are being rolled out in discrete locations on the island.
Despite some signs of progress, about about 80% of residents remain without power. Tesla said its hospital solar-plus-storage project is the "first of many."
Business Insider reports the location of the project is vital — while almost all of the island's hospitals are operating, the majority still lack reliable power.
Tesla is certainly not the only company working on the island. Sonnen has also committed to constructing microgrids as part of the restoration effort, and Sunrun and a group of nonprofits are rolling out renewables projects.
Sunrun, Empowered by Light, Givepower and Zero Mass Water are working on solar microgrids, water desalination and purification systems, and water production systems at fire stations on Puerto Rico. Earlier this month a 4 kW solar array with battery storage was installed at the Barrio Obrero fire station in San Juan, while water desalination and purification systems are also being deployed.
It has been more than a month after Hurricane Maria thrashed the island as a Category 4 storm, causing a complete blackout and destroying much of Puerto Rico's grid infrastructure.
Utility officials have contracted with several entities to bring electric service back online, most curiously a small Montana company named Whitefish. The company was granted a $300 million contract to work on the island's grid, despite having just two permanent employees when it landed the job. Members of Congress from both parties are now calling for an investigation into Whitefish after media reports revealed its owner has links with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
As part of the restoration process, Puerto Rican officials are also considering privatizing Puerto Rico's generation, Bloomberg reported this week. Government leaders did not reveal to the outlet which companies have shown an interest in that scenario, but would likely use a competitive bidding process to select a partner.
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