November 3, 2017
Rebuild Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with Clean Renewable Energy
Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands were hit with 2 ferocious Category 5 hurricanes in as many weeks. Climate change does not cause hurricanes to form, but the warmer surface water temperatures make the hurricanes stronger. This is the new reality and it is essential that Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are rebuilt in a resilient way.
Both territories have rickety, old electricity grids, that are powered mainly by expensive imported oil. It is imperative that energy efficiency and clean renewable energy facilities be built in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands so that the territories do not experience the widespread power outages they are currently experiencing during and after future storms. Sun, wind and water are in abundance, year- round, in the Caribbean, yet there are very few renewable energy projects in place today. Energy efficiency investments will also save money and prevent pollution.
Many weeks after the hurricanes hit, at least 2/3 of Puerto Rico still has no electricity. The majority of homes in the US Virgin Islands are also without electricity. Many Puerto Ricans still do not have clean drinking water because lack of electricity has resulted in the failure of drinking water systems and has disabled sewage treatment plants.
Federal agencies have a policy of only rebuilding public infrastructure that was damaged by the hurricanes. FEMA, if not directed otherwise, will rebuild what was in place before the hurricanes. The federal government is poised to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars to put the old oil based electricity grid back in place. No doubt, it will come down after the next storm. The federal government is not funding solar microgrids, wind, battery storage, tidal power, energy efficiency – the very things that would make Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands more resilient.
In early December 2017, Congress is likely to pass a final hurricane supplemental budget bill to deal with costs associated with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.
Call your US Senators and your House member and urge them to add new provisions to the Hurricane budget supplemental bill that directs all federal agencies to use federal dollars to build clean resilient- renewable electricity projects in the hurricane-ravaged areas. The definition of renewable energy should not include garbage burning or wood burning.
You can easily call your US Senators and your US House member by dialing: 202 224 3121.
Tell your member of Congress to ensure that federal funds are spent to build renewable and resilient and decentralized electricity in the territories of Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands that will not come down after the next storm.
This makes fiscal sense and environmental sense, but it will not happen unless Congress takes action.