75% percent of Puerto Ricans are still not connected to power after the devastating destruction caused by Hurricane Maria almost two months ago. Earlier this month, Ricardo Rosselló, governor of Puerto Rico began discussions with Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO on rebuilding the island’s power grid using solar and battery technology from Tesla.
Tesla has used this tech to restore power to San Juan’s Hospital del Niño. The children hospital serves over 3000 patients across Puerto Rico and accommodates over 35 more children with critical medical problems who have to be in constant care.
The hospital has been depending on generator power since the catastrophe and has been forced to ration on the diesel consumption.
Now the children can receive the care they deserve as Tesla restored a reliable power supply with a solar firm they built in a nearby parking lot. Elon Musk wrote on a social media platform that the San Juan’s Hospital del Niño solar project is the first one as there are other solar and battery projects going on in Puerto Rico.
Tesla showed such a high spirit putting up the project, as the hospital’s board chairman says that the project completed in one week.
Puerto Rico’s administration assures the residents that they will reconnect the island to power by 31st of December; if not all of them, at least 95%. However, many of them dismiss this as an empty promise. The budget to wire the whole island afresh is roughly $5. Billion and the country could run out of money very soon. The state-owned power company, PREPA filed for bankruptcy in July, even before Maria hit the island.
Despite all other challenges, the plans to reconnect the Island with electricity has seen unimaginable controversies in the recent past. It started with Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority signing a $300 million contract with a small power company based in Montana.
The two-year-old Whitefish Energy has its offices in Whitefish, Montana. The U.S interior secretary, Ryan Zinke comes from the town, and not just that, he is also a friend of the owner of the company, Andy Techmanski. Before the hurricane arrived, Whitefish Energy had only two permanent employees.
Techmanski maintains that he won the contract because he got to the Island the first one and also because he didn’t ask for an advance payment.