Renewable Roundup: Microgrids in Puerto Rico

  • Published on June 12th, 2020

Trump hates Boricuas/Puerto Riqueños at the best of times. In addition, FEMA is, by law, not permitted to rebuild the storm-shattered energy grid in PR with distributed solar and wind power, our topic today. Malignancy plus mandatory foolishness pile disaster on each natural disaster. It is going to take Joe Biden’s people years to get back to where we were years ago, and decades for them and the people of Puerto Rico and those willing to help to restore forests, buildings, and infrastructure on the island.

El Yunque is the only tropical forest in the US National Forest system (Nasa Photo)
El Yunque is the only tropical forest in the US National Forest system (Nasa Photo)

By Mokurai


Power Project Provides  Shelter from the Storm

A project to install microgrids in  schools across Puerto Rico is part of the island’s “roadmap to resiliency,”  designed to strengthen infrastructure and ensure reliable power in an area  battered by natural and economic disasters. The solar-plus-storage installations are especially important to rural communities              that rely on schools for shelter during  major storms.

Progress on Puerto Rico’s IRP Plan — Microgrid Knowledge

Puerto Rico’s electric grid is extremely fragile and in need of repair. … Microgrids are mini-energy service stations that can maximize locally-generated renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, and are backed by battery storage and intelligent software.

Environmental Defense Fund is developing an innovative project to demonstrate the feasibility of distributed energy resources, including microgrids that can reduce the island’s dependence on fossil fuels. These systems can be designed to connect to the larger grid to provide cleaner, more reliable energy every day, and can separate from the grid during emergencies to keep the lights on in parts of the island that need it most. For more information, visit

IRP = Integrated Resource Plan

Dec 20, 2019 – In Puerto Rico, 3600 children will now study in buildings with secure electricity thanks to the installation of school microgrids.

The microgrids were installed in 10 schools, many of which had no power for six months after hurricane

Rocky Mountain Institute sponsored microgrids in Puerto Rico schools - Photo Courtesy of RMI
Rocky Mountain Institute sponsored microgrids in Puerto Rico schools – Photo Courtesy of RMI

Maria destroyed the island’s electric grid in 2017.

The school microgrids offer sufficient battery and solar capacity to back up school libraries, administrative offices, kitchens, and critical water pumps indefinitely in the event of an outage. In addition to the microgrids the team provided roof waterproofing, energy efficiency retrofits such as LED lighting, and curriculum support for teachers to incorporate climate change and renewable energy into their classrooms.

New Microgrid Initiative Launches in Puerto Rico Amid Energy Policy Uncertainty — Greentech Media/Wood MacKenzie

Mar 21, 2019 —  The Environmental Defense Fund plans to help build low-carbon microgrids in Puerto Rico, amid delays on 100% renewable energy legislation, PREPA’s IRP and microgrid interconnection rules.

Through a three-year collaborative program, EDF plans to draw together regulatory, financial and community stakeholders to streamline the microgrid construction process. Though the organization said it wouldn’t rule out using fossil fuels in these installations, it plans to maximize clean energy and energy efficiency in their development. Before the end of the period, EDF aims to install at least one microgrid in one of its partner communities.

Jan 14, 2020 — After Hurricane Maria, battery companies like Tesla and Sonnen helped set up alternate power systems across the island. Now that the island is without power again, they are showing a way forward instead of counting on the Puerto Rico’s beleaguered utility.

When a 6.4-magnitude quake hit Puerto Rico on January 7—followed by more than 120 aftershocks in the next few days, and then another 5.9-magnitude earthquake on January 11—it took out electricity across the island. In the city of Loíza, the local Boys and Girls Club started pulling power from solar panels and a Tesla Powerwall battery, a system installed during the blackout after Hurricane Maria.

Sep 25, 2019 – 28, Puerto Rico experienced a narrow brush with Hurricane Dorian, and residents remain fearful of further damage to a still-fragile power grid.

When working to restore the region’s electricity grids to repower essential services needed for a coordinated emergency response, island leaders experienced prolonged disruptions and shortages of lines, people, trucks, helicopters, transformers, poles and other required equipment. With the widespread emergency and unprecedented devastation from a Category 5 hurricane impact, Dominica and Puerto Rico faced a months-long power outage. Without power available to critical facilities — including hospitals, fire and rescue, and other community facilities — more lives were lost as an indirect result of the outage. It is not a matter of if, but when, another hurricane will affect Puerto Rico. A rapid transition to more resilient forms of power can help to minimize the impact.
Jan 10, 2020 — The microgrids are a collaborative effort by Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), Save the Children, and Kinesis Foundation in response to Maria, Microgrid Knowledge’s Elisa Wood reported on Thursday. In September 2018, the primary school Ángel Rafael “Papo” Díaz Colón in central Puerto Rico became the first to receive one of the systems. After Maria, the school lost electricity and went five months without being able to offer a full day of learning for the children, according to RMI.

A new 15-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array and a 34 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery system went in for the school, followed by installations at an additional nine schools throughout Puerto Rico. RMI announced last December that all 10 of the microgrids had been completed.

May 31, 2019 — The cost of wind and solar energy keep falling, joined by batteries for energy storage. But while the technology of local grid power has become inexpensive, U.S. development of microgrids has lagged. Trapped by a bankrupt utility, high vulnerability to climate change, and high cost fossil-fueled electricity, Puerto Rico has been no exception. However, the island’s landmark microgrid regulations could open the small grid floodgates.

Given current circumstances, including continued outages, [the island’s utility] PREPA’s limited resources, and volatile fossil fuel costs, among others, the ability to receive power from a microgrid outweighs any costs that may arise from complying with these regulations.

Jun 7, 2019 — A report by Wood Mackenzie estimates that the accumulated investments in Puerto Rico’s microgrid market, which could allow over 220MW of installed capacity in the next five years, will reach USD 419 million.

Companies are currently competing for the development of multiple clean energy and microgrid projects on the island.

Mar 22, 2019 — Distributed generation is critical to boosting energy resilience on the island, participants noted yesterday at the Black Start 2019 conference in Puerto Rico, reflecting on lessons learned from Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Energy, policy and regulatory experts discussed a transition to cleaner, distributed generation as a cost-effective solution to harden the U.S. territory’s grid. Besides the high price tag of shipping fossil fuels to generate electricity, the island’s centralized system remains vulnerable to extreme weather events.

The San Juan-based conference came amid anticipation of a bipartisan bill that would mandate 100% renewable energy in Puerto Rico by 2050. The bill, PS 1121, has already passed the Puerto Rico House and Senate and a final version needs to be approved by the House in conference committee before being sent to the governor’s desk.

Feb 12, 2019 — After the catastrophe caused by 2017’s Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Ricans were left without electricity for months. Now, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) has put forward a plan to radically reform electricity access on the Caribbean island

(Crossposted with DailyKos.)

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