Lund, Echols & Killingsworth: How Solar and Storage Could Help Puerto Rico Recover After Hurricane Maria

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Stoel Rives attorneys Morten Lund, Kelly Echols and Miles Killingsworth authored an article for Bloomberg Environment titled “Practitioner Insights: Forward With Solar, Storage in Puerto Rico.” The authors discuss a suggested way forward for Puerto Rico to rebuild or replace the countries’ electrical transmission grid, which was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria when it hit the country on September 20.

Although Puerto Rico’s power plants mostly survived Maria, the storm knocked out eighty percent of the countries’ transmission lines, leaving all 3.4 million residents without power. According to government figures, only 42 percent of power had been restored by November 6.

The authors discuss the benefits for an island of sources of energy other than coal or petroleum or gas, which, unless the country has its own resources, must be imported, usually at a high price that is passed along to consumers. In addition, solar energy facilities can be placed anywhere on or around an island and situated close to where people live and work so that the power they generate doesn’t need to be transmitted far to get to where it is used.

The authors also discuss the advantages of coupling solar energy facilities, which can be built in any size, with battery-based energy storage technology—to provide power for the times of the day when the sun isn’t shining but also to add stability to the electrical grid at any time of the day.

The authors conclude: “Massive investment in electrical infrastructure in Puerto Rico is an absolute necessity if the island is to fully recover from Hurricane Maria in the near future, and survive the next hurricane. How to obtain this investment—and where to direct it—are the challenges that will shape the future of Puerto Rico. Viewed in this light, the choices forced by this catastrophe may also be an opportunity: Taking the right steps now means that Puerto Rico can become a global leader in solar and storage, allowing millions of Americans to enjoy reliable, clean and affordable power on the island for generations to come.”   

Read “Practitioner Insights: Forward With Solar, Storage in Puerto Rico,” published November 7, 2017. (Subscription  required.)

Key Contributors

Kelly A. Echols
Miles Killingsworth
Morten A. Lund
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