Tech

Tesla is sending hundreds of battery packs to Puerto Rico in the wake of major hurricanes

Puerto Rico has been ravaged and is facing significant loss of human life and harm to human life, among other things. Lack of drinking water, dehydration, food scarcity, and so many other problems are facing the Americans living there. The electric power grid in Puerto Rico is gone.

In a humanitarian effort to help the devastated and threatened population, one of the companies stepping in to help is Tesla. Bloomberg reports that Tesla is sending hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems to be paired with solar panels. The joint systems will help the battered island territory restore electric power. The company said that some of the systems are already there. Others are on the way.

Time is of the essence, and Puerto Rico has needed more aid than it has gotten. Bloombergcontinues: “The company has employees on the ground to install them and is working with local organizations to identify locations.” In case you haven’t been paying close attention, the island is still largely without electricity.

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The company quietly helps rebuild the island’s electrical systems.

According to tweets from the President of the United States, “The electric power grid in Puerto Rico is totally shot.” He says there are large numbers of generators, but apparently there are also batteries – courtesy of Elon Musk and Tesla Energy. According to Fortune Magazine, the company quietly moved in.

As soon as the storm passed, Tesla began sending hundreds of Powerwall battery systems that can be paired with solar panels to the devastated island in an effort to restore electric power there. And the shipments of Powerwall battery systems are continuing, a Tesla spokesman confirmed….Tesla employees are currently in Puerto Rico working on installations of the battery systems and installing or repairing solar there. The employees are coordinating efforts with local organizations.

Musk, who is busy tweeting about a new rocket, has been completely silent about the Puerto Rico efforts, and also about the fact that he personally donated $250,000 to the relief efforts. According to VOX, as of Wednesday, nearly all of the island’s 1.57 million electricity customers were still without power.

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PREPA, the electric company on the island, has a massive $9 billion debt, as Vox’s Alexia Fernández Campbell has explained, and in July it defaulted on an interest payment. For years, it hasn’t had the money to invest in modernizing Puerto Rico’s electrical systems. Even without hurricanes, power outages are frequent on the island. Making things worse: There aren’t enough workers to fix the infrastructure. Young people have been leaving the island in droves as the economy has tightened, and older workers have been retiring en masse, securing their pensions.

According to the New York Times, it may take four to six months to re-string all the lines and reconstruct the grid.

Getting power back to Puerto Rico will be daunting and expensive. Transformers, poles and power lines snake from coastal areas across hard-to-access mountains. In some cases, the poles have to be maneuvered in place with helicopters.

On ThinkProgress, Joe Romm suggests that Puerto Rico rebuild with microgrids, built around cheap renewable power and batteries. Perhaps Elon Musk is beating everyone to the punch and doing exactly that.

A plea for Tesla to send help was spelled out with the remnants of a house torn apart from Hurricane Irma — and the electric car marker is now sending aid. In addition to building electric cars, Tesla also sells an at-home battery pack, the Powerwall, that can capture energy generated by solar panels. Tesla is now shipping hundreds of Powerwalls to Puerto Rico as the island continues to suffer from power outages, Bloomberg first reported.

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Puerto Rico was already grappling with power outages after Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm, hit the island. At least 60,000 people were already without power when Hurricane Maria, a category 4 storm, knocked out power for the entire island’s 3.5 million residents. Generators are currently helping power high-priority buildings like hospitals, but power likely won’t return to the entire island for another six months. Tesla’s Powerwall could help bridge the gap in some areas as Puerto Rico works to repairs its electrical grid.

Tesla employees are on the ground in Puerto Rico to help install battery packs and repair solar panels, a Tesla spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider.

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