In this episode, lawyer and activist Ruth Santiago discusses Puerto Rico's latest electricity crisis, as the island struggles to restore power in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. In the wake of Hurricane Maria five years ago, the grid was privatized, but the promised rebuilding still hasn't occurred. Santiago covers what's gone wrong and what can be done.
It might help to map the areas with power still out from Fiona, to map out areas that have frequent ongoing power outages, to map the areas last to power up after Maria. Maps help inform and communicate priority areas to propose funding support and organization (people to work on it) to establish solar microgrids in those areas first. That would help draw attention to starting the new energy system with the big goal of getting started, with or without the cooperation of the utility.
I think the hardest part of changing what's done now is actually getting started. It's sensible to get going on it as an emergency where it's needed most, to demonstrate progress, and then replicate what works in other areas on the priorities map. With or without the cooperation of the utility-- this is, after all, an emergency that calls for rapid response.
Ms. Santiago's concern about having more decentralized power generation in Puerto Rico can easily be explained. Roof top solar, once purchased, is usually owned by the person who has it on their roof. Because the Utility, Luma, would not own it, they could no longer Profit from this expenditure; and would therefore be opposed to spending money (a lot which comes from FEMA at this time) on it. It is important, says Ms. Santiago, to decentralize there to avoid repetitive hurricane power system damage.