Following a 6.5 magnitude earthquake and aftershocks that damaged a major generating station earlier this month, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported power outages across the U.S. territory in the Caribbean islands. While efforts were targeted to bring the power plant back online, the sudden loss of electricity provided a harsh reminder of just how vulnerable the Puerto Rico grid is to natural disasters.
It was a little more than two years ago when Hurricane Maria took down Puerto Rico’s power grid, toppling high-tension towers and pummeling homes and business into prolonged darkness. Despite a huge effort and as much as $3.2 billion in federal assistance to restore power, Puerto Rico is still looking to design and build a more improved and resilient grid.
The same could be said for its neighbor Caribbean nations which are historically subjected to severe weather. Such was the case last year, when Hurricane Irma swept in from the Atlantic and flattened entire Caribbean communities, turned streets into rivers and devasted the region’s electrical grid for a second time in as many years.
In the wake of these relentless storms, a renewed push to reshape the region’s energy system has emerged from the debris. Just how that network might be strengthened and some of the obstacles confronting industry stakeholders will be discussed at the 20th annual Caribbean Energy Conference, Jan. 29-31, 2020, in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico.
“While much of the Caribbean has access to power, energy security is a work in progress,” said Tirso Selman, Head of Sales at APR Energy, which helped to restore and stabilize power in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. “Many of the islands are dealing with the same challenges – an aging infrastructure in disrepair. In the meantime, the high costs of electricity slow progress and prosperity. People have difficulty paying their electric bills, and industries, such as tourism and agriculture, that are heavily reliant on energy struggle to remain competitive.”
Because modernizing energy infrastructure and electrical grid systems are vital for sustaining economic growth in the region, APR Energy will host a workshop on “Developing Power Projects and Managing Risk,” prior to the Caribbean Conference, Jan. 29, 2020, at the Wyndham Grand Rio Mar. The open forum will provide a platform to discuss grid stabilization, capital and financial investment strategies, best practices for asset management and risk mitigation, and pathways to efficient energy generation.
Devastation and Opportunity
More than two years after Hurricane Maria, the most recent earthquake in Puerto Rico and the ensuing power outages serve as a wakeup call to address grid stability and energy dependence in the region. For the most forward thinking, it is an opportunity.
“Energy consumption in the Caribbean is expected to continue to grow, which makes reliability and resilience key to rebuilding the region’s power infrastructure,” said Selman. “How the public and private sector responds to outdated power systems, generation capacity, isolated grids and alternate fuel options to establish a vision will be critical for achieving energy security and sustainable economic development.”
Are you considering an investment to modernize your power systems, but are concerned about the risks? APR Energy has the power to mobilize and install fast and flexible solutions to secure your energy inventories and satisfy demand when network reliability is most vulnerable.