“They can come in and literally within six days they had the pumps turned back on for the freshwater supply for the entire island of Vieques.” [Photo: courtesy Viktre]
Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, around 450,000 people still lack power, and the local electric utility–which is on track to run out of money by mid-February without a massive loan–is still struggling to rebuild the grid. A local wind farm has been ready to run since October, but the utility hasn’t let it power up. The same is true of a large solar farm. But smaller solar microgrids, relying on batteries rather than the grid, have been able to quickly provide power to critical locations including hospitals, schools, community centers, a water pumping station, and remote mountain communities.
These projects have been donated by companies like Tesla and Sonnen. To scale up to meet demand, though, more funding is needed. A group of pro athletes is hoping to rally fans to raise that money–and if the fundraising goes well enough, the money can also help with a longer-term rebuilding of the island’s electricity system.