Hurricane Maria slammed into the islands of Puerto Rico in late September 2017 with slashing winds of more than 150 mph, record storm surges and torrential rainfall. The devastating result of the strongest hurricane since 1928 was tragic loss of life, significant property damage and widespread power outages. The Federal Emergency Management Authority (FEMA) and the United States military responded immediately to rescue people and start the long process of restoration and rebuilding.
But, should we "rebuild" the electric power generation and delivery system in the same antiquated, 20th century manner that was blown to the ground with Maria? Certainly there's balance between the immediate, life-impacting needs of the cities and communities of Puerto Rico and the opportunity to build a new, robust 21st century power generation and distribution system that enhances value, reliability, resiliency and sustainability. In fact, Tesla's Elon Musk has offered to rebuild the electric system with solar power and battery storage. The Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rosselló said "Let's talk"...and they did. See Billionaire Elon Musk In Discussions with Puerto Rico About Rebuilding Storm-Ravaged Power Grid.
So, here's the question:
How would you redesign the power generation and delivery system on the islands of Puerto Rico?
Here's my high-level idea: LNG for up to 50mW combined heat & power plants and/or factory built small (45mW) modular nuclear units supporting clusters of "real" 21st century microgrids connected by underground 69/138kV transmission lines in urban areas. In lower density or rural areas, build hardened (concrete) overhead transmission lines from the gas/nuclear units to load centered substations with underground distribution feeders supported by large public rooftop and community scale solar with storage. Deploy aggregated demand response (DR) and strong energy efficiency standards for new (rebuilt) residential, commercial and governmental construction across the entire country.
Please offer your ideas and maybe we (as the industry) will build it and improve the safety, health and welfare of the good people of Puerto Rico. Thank you....