Musk Wants to Electrify Puerto Rico

Just a short hit of potentially good news. After the emergency response comes the rebuilding.
Islands usually get their electricity from diesel (bunker diesel if memory serves, the cheapest and dirtiest grade) generators. Solar is a much better option, and once installed they no longer need to buy and import that fuel.
The obvious question is how to pay for it. A less obvious question is how to harden it against powerful storms. Still, it's a start.

From Huffpost

The Tesla CEO tweeted Thursday that his company is capable of rebuilding Puerto Rico’s power grid, much of which was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, to run on solar power and batteries.
...
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. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 5, 2017
...
Ricardo Rosselló is the Governor of Puerto Rico
@elonMusk Let’s talk. Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies? PR could be that flagship project.
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 6, 2017

EDIT:
I fully understand that it's a long way from a couple of tweets to a 21st century electrical infrastructure. Still, it's an improvement over throwing paper towels in a photo op.
Even if the core components are manufactured on the mainland (and at what point would it make economic sense to manufacture them on the island?), the installation would be a huge jobs engine. This would encourage young people to remain on the island, and cycle money through local businesses.
The Jones Act would act against establishing any significant manufacturing on the island, but I don't see any reason whole shiploads of raw materials couldn't be delivered directly to San Juan, upgrading the port if necessary. American ships could transport finished batteries to Miami.

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Comments

And Elon Musk is just forward-thinking enough to rebuild Puerto Rico's power grid in an affordable way. Musk should also train Puerto Ricans to rebuild Puerto Rico themselves and help them build a solar factory with trained local workers to restart their economy. What a great marketing tool the whole island would be for Musk.

Hopefully, there will be a huge public and political campaign to educate everyone in Puerto Rico about the benefits.

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15 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@IdahoDiane @IdahoDiane
1. Puerto Ricans are not in need or a political campaign to get "educated". Not much brain power needed to understand that solar power off the grid with batteries that are not connected to any grid are preferable to any other energy form.
2. it's not in the intereste of the Puerto Rican people to be a good marketing tool for Tesla or Musk.
3. I think Musk wants to electrify his bottom line profits. That's all.
4. He should donate the solar/battery kits to Puerto Ricans. Period.

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8 users have voted.

"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

@mimi Musk may be innovative but I he is looking out for #1 not the people of PR. But if they were considering converting to alternative energy sources now is the time to do it.

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8 users have voted.

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." - Albert Einstein

mimi's picture

@WIProgressive
as everything else is "kaputt" anyhow. But having watched how solar energy is sold and the consumer undermined by the government shenanigans on the island of Maui, I would say, if the solar companies don't make their bucks with the panels and their installations themselves, they make it by offering "financial tools" to be able for the buyer to get them in the first place. The governemnt also changes constantly the tax credits they give to the buyers of such systems and the reduced electricity rates they get, when they feed their surplus engery back into the grids. That's why they even can force you to feed the grids under the argument of grid stability. Of course you don't get anymore the reduced rates, you get increased ones after a while and you don't know that in advance.
May be I don't understand the mechanism correctly. But I distrust it.

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

Raggedy Ann's picture

I hope it pans out.

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8 users have voted.

"They'll say we're disturbing the peace, but there is no peace. What really bothers them is that we are disturbing the war." Howard Zinn

detroitmechworks's picture

I keep seeing Demolition Man in my head every time he talks about things...

Yes, I don't trust anybody. I'm willing to bet there's an angle here that isn't being discussed. Especially considering that it's yet another corporate savior.

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11 users have voted.

I don't Blame Christians. I Blame Stupid. Which Sadly, is a much more popular religion these days.

mimi's picture

@detroitmechworks

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7 users have voted.

"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

riverlover's picture

@detroitmechworks And think that CBD oil may not be my savior but my downfall. Dealing ( not well) with panic attacks. Now all that I think of is read and sleep. Groaning at each exhaltion is not good. But it feels appropriate.

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4 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

mimi's picture

empathy for charitable donations.

I can't help it, I am so distrustful and my first question is, what is in it for Musk/Tesla? Even if the solar systems and battery kits are completely off grid, usually they will give you finance solutions to get the whole thing installed and working . I guess you won't get tax benefits if you don't feed your surplus energy back into the grid. So, couldn't this also be just another way for PR to get into debt?

Tesla should pay for it.

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7 users have voted.

"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

WoodsDweller's picture

@mimi
isn't going to just pay for it. One percent of Americans live in Puerto Rico. Nobody can afford to just donate a new electrical infrastructure for 1% of America out of their own pocket.
How to pay for it is absolutely a question. PR's power system needs to be rebuilt, but what will it look like? Solar is a better alternative for an island. Simply replacing what they have, even if it's cheaper and faster in the short run, is a foolish way to proceed.

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The lesser evil is still evil. Vote your conscience, not your fear.

mimi's picture

@WoodsDweller
I would never dispute that.

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

dkmich's picture

for the people on this island.

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*donate *follow us on Twitter *like us on Facebook

riverlover's picture

@dkmich I found my first visit up (by free ferry, part of Canada's MTO) visually unsettling. It got better later. And there were no turbines down as far at my cottage on 21st Line Rd. Downwind in average times. Eastern winds (at my face) were unsettling. Only one seiche in 15+ years. There were black squirrels on that island, presumably walked over the ice in winter.

Today is not good. The shrapnel in my forehead is rolling and painful. I am devolving and it's alarming to me. I could use a caregiver about now. Does anyone want to move in? Two other bedrooms in the house's current state. Even though today has been ambulatory, tomorrow is a mystery. I never thought I would
lose my mind.
Mourning.

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8 users have voted.

Hey! my dear friends or soon-to-be's, JtC could use the donations to keep this site functioning for those of us who can still see the life preserver or flotsam in the water.

@riverlover

All I can do is to send my hopeful wishes that your fears will not manifest and that life and your health will improve instead... people's thoughts and hearts are with you, even if we can do nothing constructive, although I'm not sure how much comfort that can provide. At least you know that the community cares, even if from a distance.

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4 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

and other greed monsters who are looking to exploit the heck out of this tragedy.

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4 users have voted.

because he thinks it is the right thing to do. But he has businesses to run, he's not a charity.
"He should pay for it himself" is a stupid comment.

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4 users have voted.

chuck utzman

You can blame me. I did not vote for Her Heinous.

detroitmechworks's picture

@chuckutzman A lot of his positions and advocacy is for frankly insane technological intrusion into our daily lives.

He's a classical Technocrat who thinks that all problems can be solved if you wave your silicon wand around a bit. Essentially, he wants to keep the Unsustainable American lifestyle for himself and his fellow 1%ers, and trickle down enough ideas (NOT MONEY, GOD FORBID HE PAY FOR SOMETHING!) to keep the planet from forcing him to cut back.

The newest idea isn't always the best.

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6 users have voted.

I don't Blame Christians. I Blame Stupid. Which Sadly, is a much more popular religion these days.

mimi's picture

@chuckutzman
well, I wonder what is more stupid, comments by Musk wanting to colonize Mars with a huge rocket, or engaging in moon tourism, or my little thought that a guy, who has that much money and frigging arrogance to engage is that sort of "kwel technology egomania", may be able to donate a couple of thousands solar panel with battery kits to Puerto Ricans.

I am not fond of people wanting to be colonialists. And he behaves like one. Colonies are made by colonialists. And I don't like them.

What to expect from Elon Musk’s Mars colonization update this week"

For years, Musk has been Mars’ biggest fanboy, arguing that humanity should head straight to the Red Planet without setting up a colony on the Moon first. But in recent months, the CEO has changed his tune slightly. In February, SpaceX announced that it would be sending two tourists on a trip around the Moon sometime in 2018. Then in July, Musk proclaimed at the ISS R&D conference that he thought establishing a human presence on the Moon was part of the dream of the Apollo missions. "To really get the public real fired up, I think we've got to have a base on the Moon,” he said at the conference.

May be, just may be, Mr. Musk could imagine that some people want food, shelter and electricity for their little daily needs here on planet earth first, especially in Puerto Rico right now, before he blah-blahs about Moon tourism and Mars colonizations. Sorry. It's an awful thing to watch if intelligent men fall for their own grandiosity and lose all common sense humanity.

Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars with SpaceX but has yet to explain how people will survive there

No wonder he can't explain how people will survive there, he doesn't even care how they will survive here.

"They were going to launch a payload, orbit Mars, and bring it back to Earth," he said. "For us it would have been a great opportunity to look at radiation environment out beyond the Van Allen Belts, because right now we're at the space station, where we're shielded from that deep-space radiation." (Musk has downplayed the risks of space radiation, though new research suggests it could be twice as dangerous at Mars as previously thought.)

Porterfield thought NASA higher-ups would bite, but they ultimately passed on SpaceX's offer.

"During that time, though, I learned they [SpaceX] really don't have a science program, per se, that would enable them to really consider ... bioregenerative or even just greenhouse-type of technologies in a Mars architecture," Porterfield said.

Logsdon offered a similarly skeptical assessment.

"SpaceX is a very good engineering firm. Certainly they're going to design a system that makes every effort for high level of safety," Logsdon said. "But they haven't said a word about how people will survive once they get to Mars. It just isn't a part of their capabilities."

ok, there you have my load of stupid, angry commnt.

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

thanatokephaloides's picture

@chuckutzman

Elon Musk is one of the good guys. He's building in the U.S. because he thinks it is the right thing to do. But he has businesses to run, he's not a charity.
"He should pay for it himself" is a stupid comment.

Then perhaps he should have thought twice before blasting his boast.

Puerto Rico's ability to pay for anything is essentially destroyed, and was before the 2017 hurricanes hit it. And that was public knowledge; hell, we were openly discussing it here on c99. Therefore, when Musk boasted about being able to perform the reconstruction of Puerto Rico's energy system, he was claiming to be able to front it to the Island whether he recognized the fact or not.

The problem of being more honest -- of saying something of the nature of "We have the technology to do this; let's talk about how to pay for it!" -- is that it doesn't pack the sort of PR punch that Musk is looking for.

He may be "one of the good guys". But as a publicist, the man makes a fine engineer. Wink

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7 users have voted.

"Some members of the government are now investigating opioid pain killers but they are investigating the wrong thing. Despair-masking drugs are not the problem. Despair is."
-- featheredsprite

that Musk is having problems rolling out more than a few hundred of the new model Tesla automobile this year, redoing the PR electrical system is a much bigger task than that.

Musk is an interesting person with interesting ideas, and he does have some accomplishments, but there's still a lot of hype involved with his undertakings.

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6 users have voted.
SnappleBC's picture

I fully understand that it's a long way from a couple of tweets to a 21st century electrical infrastructure.

With Elon Musk there is a track record of remarkably SHORT ways between initial tweet and action. In this case, however, global banking will never allow it. Musk would want to do something to actually help the inhabitants and the bankers won't see that happen. They've got their island full of debt-slaves. They're not going to let go easily.

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5 users have voted.

I bet the pearly gates have some eloquent graffiti

want to drive a car or use electricity, it's hard for me to see why you are ranting about Tesla or Solar City. Or do you think he should give those away too?

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3 users have voted.

chuck utzman

You can blame me. I did not vote for Her Heinous.

detroitmechworks's picture

@chuckutzman http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/06/10/why-elon-musk-is-advocati...

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6 users have voted.

I don't Blame Christians. I Blame Stupid. Which Sadly, is a much more popular religion these days.

dragged the auto industry kicking & screaming into electrification. Tesla made it's designs open to all, rather than patenting them--because he believes that electric vehicles are the future solution to auto pollution. He thinks it is critical to the planet's survival to end our addiction to fossil fuel.
He is funding his Mars project from Space X revenues rather then asking the government to foot the bill. Apollo has returned many times it cost to our economy. I expect the Mars project to do the same. If Mars doesn't interest you (it does me)go your own way.
You made it sound like he wants to implant everyone with microchips--wrong. He is in fact quite concerned about the possible negative outcome of AI research.
He builds his products in the U.S. because he thinks it is the right thing to do. (unlike Apple,etc.)
PR is going to have to pay to rebuild its electric grid. Musk thinks it should be solar and I think he's right. It is a worthy aspirational goal. Do you disagree?
You sound like HRC sneering that single payer health care will never happen.

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2 users have voted.

chuck utzman

You can blame me. I did not vote for Her Heinous.

mimi's picture

@chuckutzman
with regards what Tesla/Musk offered, already did and might do for Puerto Rico.
Time for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands to Go All Green

About 2 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity has come from wind and solar. Some installations sustained serious damage. But at one 40-acre flower operation, three-quarters of 244 solar panels—installed six years ago at a cost of $300,000—sailed through the storm, and were producing usable power the next day. The 44 turbines at the 101 megawatt Santa Isabel wind farm on Puerto Rico’s south side also escaped serious damage (as did some 12,000 Texas wind turbines during Hurricane Harvey).
...
Tesla’s Musk helped green nearly the entire energy supply of American Samoa, as well as much of Hawaii’s island of Kauai.
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Tesla already is shipping in Powerwall solar/battery arrays. The Sonnen Company is lending expertise acquired in Germany’s energiewende conversion to 100 percent renewables. Even lacking the Caribbean’s intense sunlight and steady breezes, many German communities are headed to complete energy self-sufficiency based on rooftop panels and local-owned turbines.
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As renewable prices continue to plummet, the Caribbean islands should follow Germany’s lead, and take Elon Musk’s offer to help them go totally green.
...
But with their abundant solar and wind resources, Puerto Rico and its Caribbean neighbors can emerge relatively quickly and cheaply with a sustainable, import-free network of local-based micro-grids.

So, of course PR should take the offer, and if I understand it correctly, they didn't hesitate.
Still I don't know why Tesla can't afford to donate a substantial number of their Powerwall solar/battery arrays. I am sure they can afford it.

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

mimi's picture

@mimi
Rebuilding After the Hurricanes: These Solar Homes Use Almost No Energy
Builders of prefabricated, zero-energy homes built for storm resilience have seen a spike in calls, particularly from the Florida Keys and Virgin Islands.

BY LYNDSEY GILPIN, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS
OCT 4, 2017

In the Asheville, North Carolina, offices of Deltec Homes—one of several builders of prefabricated, energy efficient houses—the phones have been ringing insistently with questions about the hurricane-resistant, net-zero-energy homes the company manufactures and ships around the world. The homes are designed to reduce energy loss and are built ready for solar panels to allow customers to go off-grid and still power up when the grid goes down in a storm.

The company has seen a rise in interest in the past month, from the Virgin Islands and the Florida Keys in particular, company President Steve Linton said. "It's an insane jump," he said.

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7 users have voted.

"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

Not sure how anyone can justify keeping the whole island down by keeping up with the Jones Act...

Where does anyone get off restricting other people's use of their own ports, manufacturing and shipping to keep a population impoverished, in debt to and likely about to be Greeced by hedge fund managers and others? Oh, right, silly me...

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3 users have voted.

Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

lotlizard's picture

@Ellen North  
If goods and raw materials could be brought to Hawaii in ships directly, from all around the Pacific, without having to stop at the West Coast first for reloading, all sorts of possibilities for Hawaii — besides today’s tourism, the military, and pricey real estate development for the super-rich — would open up.

Which is why The Powers That Be will never allow it. Keep Hawaii dependent on the North American umbilical cord, that’s their motto.

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mimi's picture

@lotlizard @lotlizard
observing here and were afraid to say aloud. I was not aware that all the shipments to Hawaii must first go to the West Coast. Thx for making that clear to me.

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker

...why does he make his solar batteries only available through his subsidiary Solarcity ? This guy is a con man who makes a profit for himself. The book value of his companies is all smoke and mirrors.

The reason Puerto Rico isn't a renewables only island, is corporations like the utility Prepa have been busy refinancing their debt rather than providing electricity to Puerto Ricans. They have put up road blocks to solar installations to protect their monopoly.

What we hear from populist Trump is PR needs more austerity to fix itself, even while Puerto Ricans are suffering from lack of clean water and basic services. Yeah, that'll work.

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mimi's picture

@Blueslide

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"History is what the present chooses to remember" - Carl Becker