Jennifer Granholm is all set to increase the focus of energy chiefs towards solar and renewable power requirements on the island of Puerto Rico. Because due to extreme weather conditions solar switch in Puerto Rico is a matter of life and death.
Jennifer Granholm is the United States Energy Secretary, and for her, the transformation of power grid in Puerto Rico from traditional to solar and other renewable resources is a crucial decision. Granholm is the point person of President Joe Biden, and she is responsible for fixing the island grid.
â€œThis is a question of life and death in real terms, in real time. This isn’t just a question of nicety (or) climate.â€ Jennifer said in an interview done in Orocovis, a remote town nestled in the central mountain range.
She was on a weeklong trip which was her 4th visit since October to this land. Puerto Rico is populated with 3.2 million U.S. Citizens. To solve the grid issue more trips are to be expected for Jennifer as up till now this island has not been a part of large focus for the United States energy chiefs.
With an increasing focus on solar energy, Puerto Rico also installed a record of 163 megawatts capacity. According to Solar Energy Industries Association, the island reached 25th spot from 35th spot in the list of 50 states and islands.
Granholm along with other officials discussed PR100. It is an Energy Department study whose initial results show that the island has the potential to generate more power from renewables than it requires.
“The Energy Department has $1 billion Congress approved in December to supply rooftop solar panels,” this was the message that Granholm delivered during her visit to the island. The first batch of funding will go to the most vulnerable, with allocation as soon as late 2023.
Granholm further added, â€œIt’s important for people to realize every pocket of the nation can benefit from moving to clean energy. Some 400,000 homes need rooftop solar but the $1 billion is only enough for up to 50,000 homes.â€
Jesus Colon Berlingeri, Mayor of Orocovis said, â€œMore than 100 people lost their lives due to exacerbated health conditions when power outage happened after Hurricane Maria hit the town in 2017. However, by the time Hurricane Fiona hit the island, Orocovis had already acquired petroleum-fueled generators. But again, this contributes to carbon emission.â€ With the idea of solar power offered by Granholm he added, â€œThat is a hope for the people.â€
Since residents in Puerto Rico are not required to pay some federal taxes, it can be hard for solar projects in Puerto Rico to get solar tax credits that were expanded in the Inflation Reduction Act last year.
Jose Torres, Finance expert and founder of Monllor Capital, said, â€œNonprofits could reap some IRA benefits because it allows for cash rebates for solar. â€œThen all we would need is get a bridge loan to allow us to construct projects.â€
Presently, Puerto Rico’s power generation from renewable is only 3%, but the island aims to achieve 40% renewable energy power generation by 2025 and approximately 100% by 2050. All these efforts are to address the threat of storms posed by climate change.
A lawyer at the Resiliency Law Center nonprofit, Yamilette Albino said, â€œEmphasis on solar could come at the expense of other alternatives like geothermal, wind power, and producing fuel from decomposing waste like manure and vegetation.â€ She is worried that increased demand for batteries to back up solar power could raise the prices of lithium, and this can limit the use of solar power in the long term.
To clear this, Granholm added, â€œThere is a lot of red tape underbrush. We are working on trying to clear up that regulatory stoppage. We need to earn your trust, and the proof will be in the pudding.â€ Because solar switch in Puerto Rico is a matter of life and death which should be taken care of soon.