After the devastation of Hurricane Maria, the island of Puerto Rico went dark. Much of the island remained without power for months, with the last areas re-connected to the grid nearly a year after the storm. More than $3.2 billion was spent getting on restorations, but the system is still insufficiently improved. When a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck followed by numerous aftershocks, much of the island lost power again. This time, however, in a few areas surrounded by darkness, the lights were still on.
Private donations of technology and other resources have led to the establishment of “microgrids” in Puerto Rico. These are localized electrical grids that harvest energy through solar panels or other renewable energy sources, and store excess energy in batteries to allow for continuous power.
These microgrids are serving critical infrastructure in Puerto Rico ranging from a children’s hospital to water treatment facilities, to community centers and fire stations. After the earthquake, microgrid-powered systems were put to the test, and those within the footprint of their respective microgrid were able to avoid disruption to power.