Musk says Tesla can help fix Puerto Rico’s power grid
Billionaire innovator Elon Musk is pledging to meet with Puerto Rico’s governor to discuss how he could help rebuild the island’s ruined electrical grid with reliable renewable energy.
After Hurricane Maria destroyed the U.S. territory’s electricity distribution network, leaving millions of residents without power for months, the Tesla CEO said on Twitter his company could intervene.
Tesla’s strategy involves pairing large batteries with solar panels and solar roof tiles, providing an off-the-grid energy solution that keeps the lights on without the help of fossil fuels. The company’s SolarCity division handles the installation and sales.
“The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” Musk said Wednesday in a tweet. “Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt ... any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.”
Musk’s suggestion drew the attention of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello. “Let’s talk,” Rossello responded. “Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.”
“I would be happy to talk,” Musk replied Friday. “Hopefully, Tesla can be helpful.”
The exchange comes amid tremendous uncertainty over how to restore the Puerto Rican grid, which was already dilapidated and bankrupt before Maria.
Pundits have suggested that Maria’s destruction paradoxically represents an opportunity for Puerto Rico to reimagine its unreliable and polluting electrical infrastructure. In 2016, Puerto Rico burned oil to generate 47% of its electricity, compared to only 0.6% for the entire U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The island got only 2% of its electricity from renewable sources, compared to 14.9% for the whole U.S.
Since Maria wiped out the island’s power distribution network, hospitals and drug manufacturing plants have been operating on generator power.
Gov. Rossello says it could cost up to $90 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico.