Puerto Rico’s Microgrids: From Tragedy to Innovative Model for the World?

White Papers > Remote and Island Microgrids > Puerto Rico’s Microgrids: From Tragedy to Innovative Model for the World?

At Microgrid 2018 in Chicago, Footprint's William Heegaard and Jared Leader, of Smart Electric Power Alliance, explored the role Puerto Rico's microgrids play in disaster and resiliency planning for the island -- and why the island offers a model for the world.

Jared Leader, senior associate at Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), described the recent devastation in Puerto Rico as a  case for using microgrids for energy resiliency. SEPA’s mission is to to facilitate the electric power sector industry’s smart transition to a clean and modern energy future through education, research, standards and collaboration. Founded in 1992, the alliance has about 1,180 members, 640 of which are utilities.

In Puerto Rico's case, recent Hurricanes caused island-wide devastation. Through the proposed Build Back Better (BBB) program, $1 billion of the total requested $94.4 billion will go toward 159 microgrid applications for critical infrastructure like police and firehouses, hospitals, water treatment facilities and more. The plan also includes three microgrids for remote communities — SEPA's contribution to the BBB program. Community microgrids provide benefits such as cost savings, resiliency, reliability, and cleaner energy.

William Heegaard, founder of Footprint, discussed the use of renewable microgrids for more efficient disaster response, using the example of Puerto Rico. Footprint Power is dedicated to helping owners of older coal- and oil-fired power plants – and the communities that host them – transition these facilities and sites to other productive purposes.

At Microgrid 2018, Heegaard explored the concept of sustainable humanitarian response, as well as how Puerto Rico and others can "develop through disaster" and put innovative energy resources like microgrids in place for future energy resiliency. Heegaard pointed out that it's not just government restoring power to the island.  Private citizens see the opportunity, as well, with some building their own solar power systems.

Download the Microgrid 2018 presentation to get a full picture view of Puerto Rico's microgrids and energy resiliency efforts.

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