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Tesla Set To Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Electric Grid After Hurricane Maria

There is no doubt about the devastating affect of Hurricane Maria. Since hitting Puerto Rico seveal weeks ago, the hurricane caused mass destruction to the island and the entire island’s power system has been cut off leaving areas with no water and limited access to food and cell services. The storm knocked out 80 percent of the island’s power transmission lines, the Associated Press reports. As of October 3, nearly all of the island’s 3.4 million residents still lack access to basic needs that the power provides. 

Moody’s Analytics, estimates that the storm could cost Puerto Rico around $45 billion to $90 billion in repairs. This is a sum that neither the government nor private businesses are willing or able to fork out and it has been widely reported over the years that the island has had insufficient funds to invest in modernising its electrical system. Compounding the problem is the fact that there is a severe lack of manpower to rebuild the infrastructure as younger generations continue to leave the island in droves in search of better work opportunities and older workers are retiring en masse, securing their pensions.

As the US federal government’s initial recovery response has been lacklustre, U.S. electric car and battery maker Tesla Inc’s CEO, Elon Musk, has stepped up and taken on the daunting task to rebuild the power system on the island. Musk casually commented on twitter on October 5th, about the possibility of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s entire power using solar technology.

In response to a request for help from the former governor of Puerto Rica, Pedro Rosselló, last Thursday, Musk casually said in a tweet “I would be happy to talk. Hopefully, Tesla can be helpful.” “The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” Musk said in a tweet on Thursday.

Subsequently, the governor replied in a tweet to Musk “Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your (Tesla technologies)? Puerto Rico could be that flagship project.”

Since late September, the company has already been actively involved in relief efforts in the disaster-stricken island, providing the badly needed expertise and manpower. In coordination with local organisations, Tesla employees have been sent to Puerto Rico to work on installations of the Powerwall battery systems. First introduced in April 2015, The Powerwall is a battery designed for homes that store the energy generated by solar panels. The ultimate goal is to pair batteries with solar panels to provide renewable electricity without burning fossil fuels.