Solar and Storage Companies Create Advocacy Group for Puerto Rico

Elisa Wood

A group of solar and energy storage companies, some international in scope, have joined forces to advocate for Puerto Rico as it rebuilds its electric grid.

solar and energy storage

The solar array for the sonnen microgrid at S.U. Matrullas, a school that educates over 150 students in the remote town of Orocovis, Puerto Rico (PRNewsfoto/sonnen)

New Energy, Pura Energía, SRInergy, Windmar, Sunrun, Tabuchi and Sonnen are among the founding members of the Solar and Energy Storage Association of Puerto Rico (SESA-PR).

“I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Our electric grid was broken when I was growing up and is obviously in even worse condition today,” said Alejandro Uriarte, director of SESA-PR and managing partner at New Energy Consultants. “Rebuilding after the hurricanes provides our island with a unique opportunity to upgrade our grid using better, more reliable technology like solar and battery storage that can make Puerto Rico an energy leader in the United States and across the world.”

The industry group is forming as Puerto Rico struggles to modernize its electric system following its total collapse from Hurricane Maria in September. A recent Harvard study estimated that the hurricane resulted in more than 4,000 deaths on the island, many during the weeks and months afterward when healthcare facilities still lacked electricity.

Puerto Rico also labors under power costs that are the second highest in the nation, a burden that SESA-PR attributes to the grid’s instability and reliance on fossil fuels.

Since the storm, several companies, aid groups and federal workers have been trying to quickly install microgrids and nanogrids to ensure electric service, especially for critical services or remote areas where grid repair is difficult.

“At this crucial moment for Puerto Rico, we are calling on the people to join this effort that aims to guide and educate around the use of solar energy to reduce dependence on the traditional electrical system,” said Patrick James Wilson, president of SESA-PR. “We have assembled a group of experts who will participate in a broad discussion on the future of energy on the island and share their perspectives from various sectors such as government, finance and economic development.”

Among other things, SESA-PR intends to advocate in Washington, DC for a clean-energy rebuild of Puerto Rico. The organization is planning a conference June 25-26 at the Intercontinental San Juan, in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“Home solar and batteries put residents at the center of the solution and make Puerto Rico’s energy system more resilient and reliable, and help withstand future weather events,” said Chris Rauscher, director of public policy at Sunrun.

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