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Published on September 29th, 2017 | by George Harvey


A Call For Help For Puerto Rico

September 29th, 2017 by  

This post repeats a call first posted at Green Energy Times in the article, “A Call for Help for Puerto Rico.”

I was delighted to discover, shortly after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, that Donald Trump understood that the island commonwealth is part of the United States. Perhaps he knew that all along, or perhaps someone told him. Either way, the island is entirely without grid power and has the prospect of remaining without grid power for months. It is appalling that citizens of the United States are so exposed to hardship.

In the aftermath of the event, we got news that Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a solution to Puerto Rico’s energy problems. He believes that small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) should be installed on the island, providing inexpensive, reliable grid power for the coming decades. There is more than one problem with this approach. Entirely aside from the facts that nuclear power is not inexpensive or reliable (2% of all reactors that have gone online to provide grid power have melted down — no, I am not kidding), SMRs are not available and cannot be installed in the near future. Puerto Rico’s problems are in the present. I repeat: It is appalling that citizens of the United States are so exposed to hardship.

One solution to Puerto Rico’s problems appeared in an article in RenewEconomy, “Trump officials have no clue how to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid. But we do.” The solution is renewably powered microgrids, an idea that any reasonable Energy Secretary for the United States should understand without being told, though Perry appears not to. Let’s hear it for the Australians!

A minor problem with RenewEconomy’s approach is that it has to be organized and funded. I would like to propose a solution: Crowdfund it.

I could start a crowdfunding campaign myself, of course. But what we are talking about here is crowfunding the recovery of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. This would be an overwhelming matter for a single campaign. So I would like to propose a solution.

We should have a Campaign of Crowdfunded Campaigns for Puerto Rico. Every community in the United States should consider how it can do its part. So can every state. For that matter, so can every commercial venture with enough employees that they can form a crowd. Each of these can put together an effort, subscribed by donations, to send relief packages to Puerto Ricans who so desperately need help.

In a situation where there is no power, a single flashlight can be a blessing. It barely costs anything. What I am envisioning is, of course, much bigger than that. It might include such tiny offerings as packages, each containing a solar panel, a 12-volt battery, an inverter to go from 12 volt DC to 120 volt AC power, a couple of LEDs, and a fan, just to help out individual families for a time. It is better than living in the dark.

Or it could be larger, and I would suggest that it should be. It could consist of a shipping container with a complete solar system ready to be set up for a community or neighborhood. We can, as communities of citizens of the United States help other citizens of our country in a time of real need.

If you think about it, we are generous people, and our fellow citizens are in real need. I would bet that a single campaign from a single large city could get San Juan back on its feet. And we could do it much faster and more effectively than the swamp critters currently occupying the government offices in Washington, D.C..

This would not be an overwhelming project for anyone, except, perhaps, dock workers. We would hope that they would be kept busy. But if the campaigns are set up to start shipping as soon as funds arrive, it could start bringing relief to Puerto Rico in days.

Let’s do it!

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About the Author

A retired computer engineer, George Harvey researches and writes on energy and climate change, maintains a daily blog (geoharvey.com), and has a weekly hour-long TV show, Energy Week with George Harvey and Tom Finnell. In addition to those found at CleanTechnica, many of his articles can be found at greenenergytimes.org.

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