Lighting the Way

With a month having passed since Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico, much of the country still remains without power, with only about a quarter of the island's residents having electricity, and a significant majority of the island's electric transmission and distribution lines still being damaged. Under these conditions, much of Puerto Rico's hospitals, schools, and critical water and communications infrastructure remain dark.

Given the length of time full recovery is expected to take, various experts are proposing that any redevelopment look into technologies that could increase both electrical storage capacity, to fill in gaps during shorter term disruptions via the incorporation of energy storage batteries, and grid robustness, via the integration of microgrid infrastructure.

Microgrids and energy storage batteries have been effective in alleviating some of the stresses imposed by extreme weather events and natural disasters in nations like Japan and the Dominican Republic, by helping to reduce dependence on a single centralized power source, instead implementing smaller power sources throughout the network. Costs associated with the adoption of these technologies remain high, potentially limiting the ability of the Puerto Rico to adopt them, given the high current level of indebtedness and the other expected costs for recovery. Consequently, the ability of Puerto Rico to take advantage of these potential improvements may be limited without outside funding or private-public partnerships.