Acceda a este material en español. In what has become the new normal in Puerto Rico after a storm, millions were powerless after Hurricane Fiona overwhelmed the archipelago’s fragile centralized electrical grid. With transmission lines dead and generators shut down, only the relatively few Puerto Ricans with rooftop solar and battery storage were able to maintain power to keep electronics charged and medicine and food unspoiled. Urge Secretary Granholm and Puerto Rico Governor Pierluisi to chart a different course.
Fiona exposed the same vulnerabilities in Puerto Rico’s centralized grid that Hurricane Maria did in 2017, when many of its three million residents were without power for nearly a year. Over 3,000 lives were lost — many died in the aftermath of the Hurricane, while the electric grid was down.
There’s an opportunity now for Puerto Ricans to revolutionize their energy future. FEMA allocated $14B for transformation of Puerto Rico’s energy system after Maria. Most of those funds remain unspent. After Hurricane Fiona, President Biden gave Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm authority over funds for the grid.
The only way to transition the archipelago to a reliable, affordable, healthy and climate-resilient energy grid is for Granholm and Governor Pierluisi to prioritize investments in rooftop solar and battery storage for all residents of Puerto Rico. The money is there, and the Queremos Sol report shows that this amount is more than enough to fully power the entire grid with rooftop solar and storage systems on a million Puerto Rico rooftops. The federal government and Governor Pierluisi just need to spend it for the benefit of all Puerto Ricans.
It's critical this money is spent wisely. Puerto Rico cannot become climate resilient by propping up a dilapidated, highly-centralized grid that is fueled by dirty energy and depends on vulnerable transmission lines. Research shows that distributed rooftop solar energy and battery storage could be installed on houses and apartment buildings throughout Puerto Rico, potentially providing four times as much energy as the entire archipelago uses.
Investing federal dollars into rooftop solar and storage systems is what will truly enable a resilient, clean grid for Puerto Rico, as those systems are proven viable and are critical to shut down coal and diesel plants in the short term.
Fifty percent of Puerto Ricans have low-to-moderate incomes. This is a matter of economic justice and climate justice. Sticking with an outdated, fossil fuel-dependent transmission line technology that fails in storm after storm is unacceptable. Tell Secretary Granholm and Governor Pierluisi to take action now before Puerto Rico is plunged into darkness again and lives are needlessly lost.