October 18, 2021 Read More →

Puerto Rico grid woes lead to grassroots push for more renewables

The Guardian:

Rosalina Marrero spends the best part of each day ironing and watching telenovelas at her modest bungalow in Puerto Rico’s coastal Guayama province. When it gets too hot or her asthma plays up due to the toxic coal ash from the nearby power plant, the 78-year-old widow rests on an adjustable hospital bed, clicks on the fan and thanks God for the solar panels on her roof.

Earlier this year, Marrero was among two dozen residents in a low-income, predominantly Black neighbourhood blighted by coal pollution, fitted with a rooftop solar and storage system. Campaigners say systems like hers should be rolled out more widely to tackle the island’s energy crisis and the global climate emergency – both of which are exacerbating racialized health inequalities.

The situation with the electricity is dire.

Puerto Ricans pay more than twice as much for electricity as Americans on the mainland yet earlier this month power cuts to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses caused widespread anger and misery. Traffic lights failed, hospitals used expensive diesel generators to keep dialysis machines and ventilators running, and fires broke out due to fluctuations in voltage.

Despite the abysmal service, electricity rates have increased four times so far this year.

[Nina Lakhani]

More: Build back solar: the Puerto Ricans who see sun as key to resist climate shocks

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