A Vision for Restoring Puerto Rico’s Grid

December 18, 2017

Federal and local officials in Puerto Rico are working to fully restore power to the island and end the longest blackout in U.S. history. Following a direct hit from Hurricane Maria in September, local communities are nearing three months without power and don’t expect full restoration until spring 2018. To ensure devastation of this level does not occur again, key stakeholders in Puerto Rico are rethinking how the island generates and delivers energy and how they will rebuild its electricity system for resiliency in the face of future severe weather.

As a trusted partner on the island for the past 15 years, and at the request of the Puerto Rico Energy Commission, AES put forward a vision for the grid that uses a network of regional mini-grids powered by solar and battery storage to increase reliability, strengthen flexibility and reduce reliance on expensive imported oil and diesel.

We outlined our vision in a recently-published op-ed in The Hill and an interview in Puerto Rico’s El Nuevo Dia, explaining how a network of connected mini-grids is the right approach. The Government of Puerto Rico is expected to release its plan for rebuilding later this month, and we wanted to ensure our ideas were part of the options being considered by everyone working on the reconstruction.

EXCERPT – FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE HILL

“…if an island-wide grid in some form isn’t in place, communities can only rely on the resources they can afford to put in place. While some can add solar, others may have to rely on outdated and costly oil and diesel-fueled generation powered by imported fuel. A smarter, faster and more cost-effective use of resources is put larger-scale solar and battery storage installations across the island’s grid (front-of-the-meter) where it can both prevent outages at a larger scale and provide additional services/value to the grid.”

We’re committed to both immediate recovery and long-term resilience for the island. To that end, we‘re sending 6 MW of batteries in shipping containers to be deployed in areas more severely damaged by the storm. The containers, which must be powered down and shipped, will arrive in Puerto Rico in January 2018, and can help repower key community and commercial buildings in as many as six town centers.

Our people and their families live and work in Puerto Rico and we want to make sure they never have to endure a hardship such as this again. As the stakeholders in Puerto Rico move forward with rebuilding a cleaner, more resilient and affordable grid, we are here and will continue to help.

Chris Shelton AES VP and Chief Technology Officer

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