... Puerto Rico’s circumstance is unique. In September 2017, hurricanes Irma and Maria shredded the island’s aging electrical grid, leaving millions without power in the second-longest blackout in world history.
Puerto Rico imports oil and gas for more than 80% of its electricity needs, saddling ratepayers with prices roughly twice the American average and a toxic legacy of pollution. Renewables made up just 2% of the electricity mix as of two years ago.
To some, the disaster, widely seen as a glimpse of what’s to come as climate change worsens, presented an opportunity to equip Puerto Rico to harvest its plentiful sun and wind for power. But Republicans instead proposed a shock-doctrine approach that promised to make Puerto Rico a reliable market for U.S.-produced gas and oil.
... renewables are typically paired with battery systems that store excess solar or wind power for use when the sky is dark or the air is still. Solar panels paired with batteries provided oases of electricity during Puerto Rico’s monthslong blackout. Indeed, the 100% renewables bill exempts energy storage systems from sales tax and eliminates rules that barred Puerto Ricans from installing battery units without permission from PREPA.
... Trump repeatedly threatened to cut funding to the battered island, which is still struggling to rebuild as federal aid trickles in slowly. Last week, the president falsely claimed Puerto Rico received $91 billion in relief. In reality, of the $41 billion approved to aid Puerto Rico, only about $11 billion has flowed from federal coffers. Another $50 billion is expected to be delivered, but over a period The Associated Press said “could span decades.”
“It’s not possible for PREPA to immediately convert to 100% renewable energy. There will be a transition period. We recognize that,” said Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), who presided over Tuesday’s hearing as committee chairman. “But there are concerns that the current plan to focus on natural gas instead of maximizing and doing promotion around solar generation will lock us into an infrastructure that will soon be dated, an infrastructure that will be dependent on importation. Am I correct?”
Marla Pérez Lugo, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez, said the question captured “the essence of the problem.”
“We’re still thinking that what’s good for PREPA is good for Puerto Rico,” she said. “And that is not necessarily so.” [Source]