There were no phones, let alone electricity, so we were told every day that we had to return to the funeral home on the next day. It was a long drive, and the lines to get gas were much longer. The line at the funeral home was pretty steady. When I say there were no phones, that’s a small misnomer. I mean, we had them, but we couldn’t do anything with them in terms of communicating. Without a backup power and communications system, we had a whole island that was simply out of luck.
Victor from Power to Puerto Rico and I had the opportunity of spending some time at the Solar Power Puerto Rico Conference in San Juan on May 1, 2019. A question I kept asking over and over was “why did you decide to attend this particular conference?” and the responses though varied, were a bit of a surprise to me, and also to the people giving them. Some people came last minute as either attendees or representatives of companies in the conference marketplace.
Me: “Was it worth it to pay for your ticket to this conference?”
Attendee: “Not last year, but this year it was.”
Expo Hall Presenter: “Maybe. There seems to be money coming to Puerto Rico now.”
A shoutout and thanks to Carlos A. Abad from CPS America for sponsoring us for our entry to the conference.
We need to feel safe in the place we live. Part of feeling safe is knowing that you will be afforded the amenities of modern life. One little (by which I mean huge) storm came along and not only put us in the dark for months, but also is foretelling of a future where storms destroy our infrastructure on a regular basis. There’s no need for this with today’s technology. I guess the problem is who wants to pay for it and who wants to pay for it not to happen.
Already we are seeing articles on how the U.S. is drifting toward having days of more than 50% of its power generated by renewables. Here in Puerto Rico, a 2050 deadline has been set to be operating independently and on renewables. That’s a nice statement to be put out by the government in Puerto Rico, but we need to do it sooner. We need to get rid of the contracts for heavy fuel oil for our incredibly polluting power plants.
It almost feels like we’re more focused on the ‘how’ right now than the ‘why’ and I don’t think we’re going to make any major inroads until the why becomes strong enough for not only those in the industry of solar, but also your everyday grandmother and little sister. When every member of our communities realize the importance of micro-grids, self-sufficiency, and backups, then we’ll really be on our way!
Attending the conference were representatives from private business to philanthropic organizations. It’s exciting to see people working through the needs of the island, some that live here, and many that live elsewhere. Doing business in the solar installation or storage business can be rather tricky in Puerto Rico as far as certifications and permitting, but it’s all possible.
I was asked several times if I had moved to the island because of Act 20 and Act 22. I didn’t move here for that, but those may be of interest to companies that are looking to do business here. I am hopeful that we can get organized with PREPA (Puerto Rico Power Authority) so that we can interact with the current grid, but also outside of its grid when necessary.