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BoxPower Supplies Two Portable Microgrids For Use In Puerto Rico

BoxPower has supplied two of its portable microgrids to communities in Puerto Rico left without electricity after a series of earthquakes wiped out parts of the island’s electrical grid.

In 1492, Columbus accidentally bumped into Puerto Rico on his way to India. Afterward, he sent a letter to his benefactors, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain, in which he praised the native people he found there for their docility, a quality he felt would make them perfect candidates for slavery. That’s according to Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History Of The United States. Things went downhill for the people of Puerto Rico from there.

Devastated by two hurricanes in 2018, much of the island has been without reliable electricity ever since. To fix the broken electrical grid, the Trump maladministration hired a company with a total of three employees based in Whitefish, Montana and run by a drinking buddy of then Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The so-called president himself helped out by distributing paper towels to people who had no food, water, or functioning medical facilities.

With incompetents at the helm, repairing the grid became a total snafu — a term made famous by American soldiers during World War II. If you don’t know what it means, look it up. What little progress has been made during the past 2+ years was largely undone recently when a series of earthquakes struck the island, damaging two generating stations and knocking out power to much of the island all over again.

BoxPower is a company in California that makes portable solar powered microgrids. They come in two sizes — one fits inside a standard shipping container and a smaller unit is fits into a U-Haul sized trailer than can be towed behind any passenger car or light truck. Working with international relief agencies Mercy Corps and Direct Relief, the company has supplied two microgrids for use on the stricken island.

The BoxPower portable microgrids utilize a modular design that includes everything needed to create a functioning electrical system. They are designed to provide emissions-free emergency power in situations where normally diesel generators would be used.

BoxPower portable microgrid

Image credit: BoxPower

BoxPower has supplied a 24 kW container-based microgrid system for the southern city of Guayama. It was delivered on January 13 and will be up and running on January 17. It will provide electricity for local emergency service workers and medical staff as well as a place where local residents can come to recharge their cell phones and computers. A smaller 3.5 kW MiniBox system has been delivered to a community closer to the epicenter of the earthquakes to provide emergency power for first responders and medical personnel.

BoxPower Microgrid

Image credit: BoxPower

If you don’t know what living without electricity is like or why it is such a big deal, go turn off the main breaker in your electrical panel. After a month or two, you will have a much clearer understanding of what life is like when the power goes out and why portable systems like the ones available from BoxPower are so important in emergencies.

In an e-mail to CleanTechnica, Angelo Campus, CEO of BoxPower, said, “BoxPower is providing hundreds of residents of Puerto Rico with safe access to clean, reliable energy.” The company’s systems are also supplying power to California residents experiencing power interruptions because of massive forest fires.

As the Puerto Rico experience shows, a portable microgrid can be be up and running within a matter of days after it is delivered, making diesel generators, with all their noise and exhaust emissions, obsolete. BoxPower systems are also the ideal solution for any remote area where access to the electrical grid is not possible and transporting large quantities of diesel fuel is problematic.

 
 
 
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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we heed his advice.

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