Elon Musk and Puerto Rico’s governor want to rebuild the island’s grid the Tesla way

Puerto Rico’s electric infrastructure was demolished in Maria.
Puerto Rico’s electric infrastructure was demolished in Maria.
Image: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Elon Musk is ready to tackle rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.

Tesla has already implemented systemwide solar and battery projects on islands like Kauai in Hawaii and another American Samoa. When Scott Stapf of the consulting firm The Hastings Group tweeted to the Tesla founder that the damage to the island’s  grid after Hurricane Maria presents a unique opportunity to rebuild using his company’s technology, Musk replied:

With 95% of the island estimated to still be without power, Ricardo Rossello, Puerto Rico’s governor, reached out to Musk directly.

Tesla technology is not immune to natural disasters—it relies on the same wires and relays to transport the energy—but the design of the system is more distributed, with multiple generation and storage facilities, decreasing the chance of a significant number of them all getting knocked off line at once. Add to that, each generating station will be closer to the homes it supplies and would power fewer homes and businesses. So when transmission lines get knocked out, a smaller segment of the population will be affected, and restoring power will be easier.

America’s grid is notoriously outdated. Saddled with debt and without the resources to tend to it, Puerto Rico’s is even more burdened. If Musk and Rossello are able to pull something off, Puerto Rico may find a better energy solution amid its misery: A state-of-the-art, renewable, distributed electric system better prepared to take on the needs of the island, and any future disasters.