Puerto Rico’s Electric Power System: An Analysis of Contemporary Failures and the Opportunity to Rebuild a More Resilient Grid, including the Development of a Utility-Scale Solar Farm on the Island Municipality of Culebra
Date of Award
Master of Arts in International Development and Social Change (IDSC)
International Development, Community and Environment
David I. Bell
Puerto Rico’s grid was decimated in 2017 after experiencing back-to-back hurricanes – Maria and Irma. Although the hurricanes caused tremendous damage and hardship to the island, it also created the right circumstances for the local energy landscape to transition toward a more resilient and sustainable model. Through an analysis of recent challenges by the local electric utility PREPA, and subsequent fallout from the hurricanes, we see that they now hold a unique opportunity to redeem themselves by taking advantage of catalyzed resources to rebuild a better system. One region that could greatly benefit from an improved and reimagined grid are the two island municipalities of Culebra and Vieques. After investigating PREPA’s failures over the last 10 years, and responses to them, we breakdown the possibility of building a utility-scale solar farm on Culebra and how it may contribute to the island’s energy independence. Finally, we look at the potential impacts that a project of this magnitude could have on the Caribbean and the way we think about small islands and their power systems.
Sotomayor, Federico, "Puerto Rico’s Electric Power System: An Analysis of Contemporary Failures and the Opportunity to Rebuild a More Resilient Grid, including the Development of a Utility-Scale Solar Farm on the Island Municipality of Culebra" (2020). International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE). 246.