Puerto Rico Asks Musk for Tesla’s Help Solving Energy Woes

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  • Assisting island could be ‘flagship project,’ governor says
  • Companies send panels, batteries after Maria destroyed grid

Storm-Battered Puerto Rico Asks Elon Musk for Help

The government of storm-battered Puerto Rico has taken to Twitter to engage Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk to help with solving the island’s energy woes.

“Do you want to show the world the power and scalability of your #TeslaTechnologies?” Ricardo Rossello, Puerto Rico’s governor, tweeted Thursday at Musk. “PR could be that flagship project.”

Musk replied on Friday that he “would be happy to talk.” Rossello told reporters he expects to have a conversation with the Tesla chief executive officer and said Puerto Rico needs to consider meeting its energy needs with more environmentally friendly technology.

Tesla is among the U.S. companies sending rooftop panels and batteries to Puerto Rico, where more than 90 percent of homes and businesses remain without electricity after Hurricane Maria destroyed the grid. The storms knocked out power to millions of utility customers who depend largely on fossil-fuel plants and long-distance transmission lines for service. Some in Puerto Rico may be in the dark for months as the grid is repaired.

This isn’t the first time Musk has been approached via social media to demonstrate Tesla’s power-storage technology. Earlier this year, Musk wagered via Twitter that Tesla could install the world’s biggest battery project in Australia within 100 days, or else it would be free. He told reporters last week that the project was on track to meet the deadline.

Tesla said last week that it was sending Puerto Rico hundreds of its Powerwall battery systems, which can be paired with solar panels.

“The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too,” Musk wrote in a post before Rossello’s tweet. On Friday, he said Tesla’s Powerwall team on the island is small and that the company was sending installers from the U.S. mainland to hire and train more people.

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont took to Twitter to praise the development.

“We must lower the cost of electricity in Puerto Rico and take advantage of its plentiful solar and wind energy to create sustainable power,” he tweeted Friday.

— With assistance by Steven T. Dennis, Brian Eckhouse, Jonathan Levin, Mark Chediak, and Nathan Crooks

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