Puerto Rico’s future is solar. Recovery funds should go there, not to its outdated grid.
Ruth Santiago is an attorney with a community and environmental-energy law practice in Puerto Rico, and is a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council.
American taxpayers are about to shell out $9.6 billion in disaster recovery funds to Puerto Rico to rebuild a 20th-century electricity grid that will fail in the next hurricane. It is a sun-drenched island, yet 97 percent of our energy comes from fossil fuels. It’s not what the people of Puerto Rico want or need, but FEMA has allocated the money to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), and large U.S. and Canadian corporations with a vested interest in maintaining this infrastructure are banking on the contracts.
As a member of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, I was hoping President Biden’s administration would undo this Trump-era scheme, which will perpetuate injustice. Rather than continue centralizing electricity in an outdated, inefficient, and expensive transmission system, we need to generate renewable power at or near the point of use, such as with rooftop solar, and store it in batteries so that energy is localized. This... Read more