March 20, 2023
Chicago 12, Melborne City, USA
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La energía photo voltaic ofrece un salvavidas a Puerto Rico


As Puerto Rico continued to reel from its worst blackout in months, one which left nearly all the island’s 1.5 million clients with out energy for days, the city of Adjuntas was an oasis.

On a Thursday morning in early April, with colleges closed, youngsters crammed seats in an air-conditioned movie show at a group heart, a pizzeria ready its kitchen for lunchtime, and the native barbershop greeted clients who They have been on the lookout for a fast minimize.

The distinction reveals why Adjuntas, a group of about 18,000 within the densely forested mountains of central Puerto Rico, has develop into a showcase for solar energy and the way it might clear up one of many island’s most urgent issues. : An influence grid that has struggled to get better after being nearly worn out by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Thanks largely to the work of Casa Pueblo, a conservation nonprofit, some 400 houses and companies in Adjuntas have solar energy programs. With battery backup, they will run even when the remainder of the grid goes down, holding companies open and making the group’s headquarters a haven for individuals utilizing medical units that must be recharged.

“When you’ve gotten power safety, you’re taking a weight off your staff and the households that enter the enterprise,” stated Ángel Irizarry Feliciano, proprietor of Lucy’s Pizza, which continued to function through the blackout. “It was a reduction that we have been in a position to proceed serving our individuals with out interruption and with out having to scale back our hours.”

However Adjuntas’ scenario additionally highlights how far the remainder of Puerto Rico has to go in relation to renewable power, regardless of all of the seemingly apparent causes for it: the island’s lengthy, sunny days, its must import fuels, which makes electrical energy technology costly, and, after all, its energy grid, which continuously fails.

Though the variety of photo voltaic installations has elevated lately, photo voltaic power nonetheless represents solely 2.5 p.c of Puerto Rico’s complete power manufacturing, in response to authorities information. The remainder comes from crops fueled by imported pure gasoline, coal and oil, and one other half from wind energy.

Many Puerto Ricans cannot afford the $27,000 a typical solar energy system can price, and the federal government — which emerged from an unprecedented chapter in March — solely started setting concrete renewable power targets in 2019. A few of Those that can afford so as to add photo voltaic panels to their houses have been deterred by the chaotic state of Puerto Rico’s funds, specifically by the proposal to cost photo voltaic clients a payment to assist prop up the general public utility.

Casa Pueblo’s amenities are paid for with cash from foundations, each in Puerto Rico and overseas, and with gross sales of espresso grown in Adjuntas. Since Hurricane Maria, the group has expanded its drive for photo voltaic adoption to communities in different elements of the island.

“We want a public coverage that creates a enterprise mannequin that focuses on serving to you generate your individual power, not simply offering power,” stated Arturo Massol Deyá, affiliate director of Casa Pueblo. “Persons are already bored with fixed blackouts and injury to their belongings.”

After the newest blackout, which started on April 6 after a fireplace at an influence plant within the southwestern city of Guayanilla, it took 4 days to completely restore energy. The island-wide blackout set off a cascade of issues: Water was additionally minimize off for a lot of, hospitals needed to flip to standby mills, and colleges and companies closed.

The blackout sparked protests and requires the federal government to cancel its contract with Luma Power, the personal electrical energy firm that took over public service final June with a promise to revive the grid. Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi Urrutia has rejected the thought, however fixed energy outages, coupled with rising month-to-month electrical energy payments, which have skyrocketed 46 p.c within the final yr, have elevated frustration with the utility firm, which is managed by a Canadian firm beneath a 15-year contract signed final yr.

“Whereas some politicians select to disregard the state of the facility grid Luma inherited and assign blame with out information, we are going to stay targeted on Puerto Rico’s power future,” Luma wrote in a press release to The New York Instances.

Puerto Rico has the ambition to do extra with renewable power. In 2019, the federal government handed a clear power legislation that requires 100% of the island’s electrical energy to return from renewable sources by 2050 and contains guarantees to make use of federal funds to construct renewable power tasks that attain low-income communities. earnings.

The board that oversees Puerto Rico’s funds accredited 18 renewable power tasks in March with the objective of elevating clear power manufacturing to 23 p.c of the island’s complete by the top of 2024. In February, the US Division of Power The US started a two-year research of Puerto Rico’s clear power choices. And the Federal Emergency Administration Company and the Division of Housing and City Improvement have allotted $12 billion to revamp the island’s power business.

Even when proposing such an formidable goal for renewable power, the oversight board raised the opportunity of charging customers who’ve photo voltaic panels on their houses, making them pay for the electrical energy they generate.

Beneath the proposal, meant as a approach to assist repay the Puerto Rico Electrical Energy Authority’s $9 billion debt, new clients must pay for every kilowatt of solar energy they generate. As a result of the proposal additionally included a plan to boost typical electrical energy charges, it was scrapped in March by the governor, however photo voltaic advocates fear that as negotiations for a brand new deal proceed, the speed — referred to by some because the solar tax — might be revived.

“We’ve to discover a approach to pay the debt,” stated Francisco Berrios Portela, director of the Power Public Coverage Program of the Puerto Rico Division of Financial Improvement and Commerce. “But it surely can’t be including a tax on manufacturing that generates one of these system that we’re selling.”

Uncertainty about whether or not they should pay extra charges for a photo voltaic power system on a house or enterprise has deterred customers like María Lizardi Córdova, an accountant who lives in San Juan. Lizardi Córdova can see a neighbor’s photo voltaic panels from her bed room window, and he or she is aware of many different individuals within the neighborhood who’ve determined to spend money on photo voltaic power, however she thinks it’s nonetheless too early for her to make the transition.

“This isn’t the time, and it has to do with all of the uncertainty of the solar tax and what my bills can be,” stated Lizardi Córdova. “The scenario is sophisticated by debt.”

For Puerto Ricans with medical wants like refrigeration for insulin or electrical energy for dialysis machines, outages will be treacherous, and the advantages of a solar-powered backup system are overwhelming.

In Adjuntas, Casa Pueblo runs a particular challenge that gives photo voltaic panels to individuals with medical wants, like Juan Molina Reyes, a farmer who grows bananas, espresso and oranges.

Molina Reyes’ father, Luis, 75, suffered a stroke in August and wishes assist respiration. He says he used seven gasoline mills to maintain his father’s oxygen concentrator operating when the facility went down.

That modified in February, when Molina Reyes’ household acquired photo voltaic panels after asking the charity for assist. He says that he feels fortunate to have them.

“I used to be determined to know that if the system failed me at any time, my father would go away us,” Molina Reyes stated. “It was a continuing battle.”

Coral Murphy Marcos is a enterprise reporter. @coralmerfi

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#energía #photo voltaic #ofrece #salvavidas #Puerto #Rico


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