Friday, September 29, 2017

'Opportunity' Seen in Puerto Rico's 'Totally Shot' Grid

Hurricane Maria toppled power posts and lines around Puerto Rico, including here in the municipality of Humacao. (Credit: Carlos Giusti/Associated Press) Click to Enlarge.
Despite the tragedy U.S. territories are experiencing from Hurricane Maria, top lawmakers said yesterday the unprecedented destruction will provide a rare opportunity to completely rebuild a modern electric grid from the ground up.

House Democrats singled out Puerto Rico's electric grid as a top priority they say should be addressed in an upcoming disaster relief package they want Republican leaders to assemble as quickly as possible.

"Puerto Rico's electrical grid was basically destroyed," said Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), a Puerto Rico native who visited the island last weekend.  "We will need federal resources for energy repair."

GOP leaders have said Congress will address Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands sometime in mid-October, when another tranche of disaster relief is expected to materialize to help the Gulf Coast and Caribbean territories recover from the trio of hurricanes that slammed the United States this month.

Appearing with Democratic leaders and colleagues with roots in Puerto Rico, Velázquez said that timeline is too slow.

"This needs to be an immediate priority for Speaker [Paul] Ryan [R-Wis.] and the Republican leadership," she said.  "We need to see action as early as next week."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said rebuilding should focus on a new electric grid employing modern technologies.

"As sad as the situation is, it does provide an opportunity for the islands to redo their grids so they will be leaders in the future as to how people receive their electricity," she said.

President Trump acknowledged on Twitter yesterday that Puerto Rico's electric grid is "totally shot."  "Large numbers of generators are now on island," he tweeted.  "Food and water on site."

Bishop, Murkowski weigh options
House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) has already scheduled a member forum Wednesday to discuss legislative options for recovery in the territories.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said yesterday that she's tasked committee staff with studying avenues for recovery ahead of a hearing she's planning.
For starters, she noted that federal disaster spending administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency comes with constraints that make little sense.
Murkowski also acknowledged that the lack of power is an immediate risk that must be addressed even as plans are made to rebuild the grid.

"In the short term, you've got people who are without power now," she said.  "So how do you make sure that you're not throwing good money after bad?   You've gotta shore it up.   We've got to make sure we get power to these people."

Murkowski indicated she'll also look at the damaged grid in the U.S. Virgin Islands, "although theirs is not quite as dire, I understand."

"There's a lot to yet be determined in terms of who pays what and how we work to rebuild," said Murkowski.

Read more at 'Opportunity' Seen in Puerto Rico's 'Totally Shot' Grid

No comments:

Post a Comment