Amid devastation, Tesla begins restoring power in Puerto Rico

Hospital del Niño lies 6.2 miles from the heart of Puerto Rico’s capital San Juan – a 10 or 15 minute drive, depending on traffic. It had been without power since September 20, when Hurricane Maria slammed into the U.S. territory as a Category 4 storm.

That is until yesterday.

Tesla Energy announced, as it announces everything it does, on Twitter that one of the first solar + storage projects it is rebuilding on the island has come online.

Given Tesla’s approach to providing information, it is unclear how big this project is, who is funding it, or other details. But it does appear to be the first Tesla project to be completed on the island since Tesla CEO Elon Musk contacted Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello – via Twitter – pledging to help the island restore/rebuild its electrical grid using solar + storage.

The most recent estimates suggest 80% of Puerto Rico is still without power more than a month after Maria made landfall.

Though Tesla is perhaps the most high-profile solar company to commit time and money to helping Puerto Rico (even, according to reports, delaying its electric truck announcement to focus on helping the island), it is not the sole company rushing to help.

Energy storage company sonnen has shipped its storage systems to the island and is distributing them to emergency medical facilities first. Texas-based residential solar installer Sunnova, whose own hometown of Houston was itself devastated by Hurricane Harvey in August – is also in discussions with Governor Rossello to offer its efforts to rebuilding the grid.

Sunnova is the second largest electricity provider on the island, behind only Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), and has been active on the island since 2014.

PREPA, the government-owned electricity monopoly, filed for bankruptcy in July in severe debt and a downgraded bond rating. It serves approximately 1.5 million people, and it was the destruction of its grid network that caused many of the blackouts currently plaguing the island.