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article imageElon Musk wants to fix Puerto Rico's power grid with solar

By Karen Graham     Oct 6, 2017 in Technology
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk wants to solve Puerto Rico's energy crisis, not in the short-term, but for the long-haul. Musk says he plans to talk with Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and the governor has responded positively.
Millions of Americans are still without power after Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, knocking out its already fragile electrical grid. Slightly less than 10 percent of power has been restored after two weeks.
We already know that Tesla has sent hundreds of its Powerwall battery storage units to the island, however, Mr. Musk has gone even further, tweeting last night, "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 PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR."
Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico's environment  and the road to recovery could be l...
Hurricane Maria wreaked havoc on Puerto Rico's environment, and the road to recovery could be long
The Puerto Rico governor didn't take too long to respond to the tweet. Governor Ricardo Rosselló responded back, saying, "@elonMusk Let's talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project,"
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is a huge problem
Not only is the island's electrical grid decimated, but the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority is in a fiscal mess. The situation came about through the mismanagement of a whole realm of responsibilities, including planning, spending, debt management, budgeting, governance and contracting, according to the Puerto Rico Energy Commission (PREC). This has left the company $9.0 billion in debt and bankrupt, yet the company is still running the utility.
Puerto Rico Power Authority workers repair power lines in Loiza  Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico Power Authority workers repair power lines in Loiza, Puerto Rico
If the status quo remains in place, Puerto Rican citizens face paying as much as $250 a month for electric power that is intermittent at best.
It's only a matter of scalability
A collaboration between Tesla and other players in the solar energy market could remake Puerto Rico's electrical grid into a showcase of what a solar-based grid system will do for the whole island. And Elon Musk is just the guy to make it happen. In July, Musk announced Tesla will build what the maverick entrepreneur claims is the world's largest lithium-ion battery within 100 days, making good on a Twitter promise to ease South Australia's energy woes.
A microgrid array consisting of 5 328 solar panels powers Ta u Island in American Samoa.
A microgrid array consisting of 5,328 solar panels powers Ta'u Island in American Samoa.
However, the biggest positive in making Puerto Rico a showcase for solar power is the island of Ta'u in American Samoa. Tesla's SolarCity installed a solar panel array made up of over 5,300 solar panels that can generate 1.4 megawatts of solar generation capacity, along with 60 Tesla powerpacks that offer six-megawatt hours of energy storage, for those occasional days when it might be overcast.
The amazing thing about the project, funded by the American Samoa Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior, is that it only took a year to complete and the island gets all its electricity from solar power. As Musk says when talking about Puerto Rico, "there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too."
More about elon musk, Puerto rico, Solar energy, storage batteries, Electric grid
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