Energy & Resiliency in Puerto Rico
Updated: Oct 3, 2019
The strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in 89 years, Hurricane Maria's rain and wind brought catastrophic flooding to the island. The island’s already fragile infrastructure was devastated.
Without power, running water was cut off for much of the population. Communications to and from Puerto Rico were interrupted for days, as were the airports. The result was the longest major power outage in U.S. history, and six months later many communities were still without power or running water. Those with access to diesel generators faced fuel shortages and the price of diesel increased by twofold.
Solar PV has been widely adopted in Puerto Rico by homeowners, commercial companies and government institutions. This has largely been driven by the island's high energy costs, which are three times higher than those in the mainland United States. However, most were not designed or built to withstand the hurricane-force winds of Maria, and were destroyed along the building roofs that supported them. And the microgrid technology that would have enabled these system to provide power during a grid outage was almost unknown on the island.
CCM Puerto Rico is one the largest real estate management companies in Puerto Rick, managing over 2 million square feet of retail space. CCM Puerto Rico’s portfolio includes 16 shopping centers and the island’s largest network of mini-warehouses. In the aftermath of hurricane Maria, many of CCM's properties were left without power. The business owners in these properties could not re-open their stores and stalls, and their employees could not return to work.
The Last Kilometer was invited by CCM to help develop an energy resiliency strategy. We travelled to Puerto Rico to meet with their team and view some of the properties affected by the storm. We also met with a number of local contractors to assess the local capability to install and support this new technology. Following the trip, we worked with CCM to examine the technical and financial implications of adding renewable energy microgrids to their properties, with the goals of reducing their reliance on the grid, using more sustainable sources of energy, and ensuring that their properties will continue to operate and serve their communities during future power outages.