Photo Credit: NBC
Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Fiona this week, a large portion of Puerto Rico is without electricity. In addition to uprooting trees and destroying power lines, the hurricane’s strong winds also knocked off power to homes and businesses.
The fact that Puerto Rico is presently experiencing an energy emergency is evidence of how inadequate its energy infrastructure is. According to experts, if the nation wants to avoid what happened when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico five years ago, this must be addressed as soon as possible.
Puerto Rico had the longest-ever blackout in American history, lasting 11 months, as a result of the devastating damages Hurricane Maria did to the island. In addition, 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane.
Senator Chuck Schumer claims that the island’s electricity system is “almost 50 years out of date” due to Puerto Rico’s lack of focus on the issue, despite the surge of international help following Hurricane Maria. But Schumer also points out that the US government is trying to assist Puerto Rico.
“As our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico continue to feel the wrath of Hurricane Fiona, we continue to monitor the situation here in Congress. Over the weekend, President Biden issued an Emergency Disaster Declaration for Puerto Rico, where 75% of the costs of emergency medical care, disaster response, and food distribution will be covered by the Federal Government,” Schumer said.
“The electric grid is almost 50 years out of date. It’s particularly susceptible to hurricanes. It hasn’t even been repaired since the damage Hurricane Maria five years ago put upon it. And yet we’ve given lots of federal money for the reestablishment, or the rebuilding of the grid and very little has happened. So we need to focus on that issue as well as others.”
“Five years to the day after the arrival of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico needs help to recover from Hurricane Fiona. We need to make sure this time, Puerto Rico has absolutely everything it needs, as soon as possible, for as long as they need it.”
There is hope
Puerto Rico began installing solar panels five years ago for homes to have more robust power systems in case of power outages. Chris Rauscher, a senior director of Sunrun, the biggest residential solar provider in the US, claims that the system gives households lights when there are power outages.
Solar firms promise to invest in improved solar setups despite the fact that the climate problem has resulted in storms that are more powerful and wetter. As a result, significant benefits will accrue to places like Puerto Rico, especially when more frequent power grid damage results from bigger hurricanes.
“It’s showing that renewables paired with storage … are really the fundamental building blocks of a clean recovery that we need to really focus on on the island and elsewhere,” explained Rauscher.
According to John Berger, an official at Sunnova, a similarly large solar firm, Puerto Rico is among the ideal locations for introducing more effective and extensive solar-powered houses. He agrees with Rauscher. In addition, he asserts that more recent technology, like solar energy, are preferable to more established ones.
Fossil fuel usage should be stopped
The US will soon commit to using renewable energy sources, shifting Puerto Rico’s long-standing reliance on fossil fuels to power its electric infrastructure. In addition, the demand for a backup energy source increased due to the Russian reduction in supply, which hiked costs.
In an effort to complete Puerto Rico’s electrical grid, a deal was made between the US and the island last February.
The energy reform of the nation, which will bring it to sustainability and efficiency, has been deemed a priority by the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi.
“I will make sure that every federal fund appropriated to Puerto Rico and allocated for the reconstruction of the power grid is used efficiently and effectively,” said the governor.
Opinions expressed by Texas Today contributors are their own.