November 8, 2017 Read More →

Emerging Case for a Puerto Rico Solar Grid

Fast Company:

The case for a shift to more renewables seems clear. Sunshine is more abundant in the Caribbean than in California or Spain. The amount of wind is competitive with states like Texas, which leads the U.S. in wind energy production. New renewable energy is affordable to build, and could help cut electric bills in a place where residents have been paying twice as much as Americans who live on the mainland.

Still, the local utility has resisted solar and wind in the past. A renewable energy law passed in 2010 required Puerto Rico to get 12% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2015; That year, the utility was only at around 3%. “They were flagrantly out of compliance,” says Cathy Kunkel, an energy consultant for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. The utility, which was also heavily in debt, was pushing to invest millions in natural gas instead.

But the hurricane may have altered that direction. “I think one of the things that has changed dramatically as a result of the hurricane is an interest by private solar developers in getting into Puerto Rico,” she says. “That interest from private capital in getting involved is one of the crucial pieces towards shifting the political landscapes in Puerto Rico around this issue . . . [the utility] has not been able to attract private capital for its investment plans, and so now the fact that there are private solar interests that are coming in and attempting to assist with the rebuilding could make a huge difference.”

More: Can Puerto Rico Be The Model For A Renewables-Powered Energy System?

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