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Puerto Rico's Grid Needs a Complete Overhaul

Allocating money to rebuild won’t be enough, experts say, unless the island can also rethink its entire energy strategy.
People walk next to fallen electric poles and traffic signs in Salinas, Puerto Rico, after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria.
People walk next to fallen electric poles and traffic signs in Salinas, Puerto Rico, after the area was hit by Hurricane Maria.Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Puerto Rico barely had a minute to recover from being grazed by Hurricane Irma when Maria approached the island. Maria was one of the strongest and most powerful storms ever recorded in the Caribbean; her eye spanned the entire Puerto Rican territory.

With wind gusts of 150 mph, the storm left massive flooding across Puerto Rico. The island lost its entire electricity supply. On Friday, Ricardo Ramos, the CEO of PREPA, the island’s utility provider, told CNBC that the company had lost more than three-quarters of its infrastructure to the storm. (The utility was struggling long before Maria made landfall: PREPA filed for bankruptcy in July.) San Juan’s mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz, recently confirmed that the whole island could be without power for up to 6 months.