Puerto Rico: Self EmPOWERed with Micro Grids

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It’s embarrassing how much need there is in the world and particularly when the need seems to be overwhelming. I received a call from Bradley Hook, VP of the Startup Societies Foundation about a Conference they are running on behalf of the Foundation for Puerto Rico on January 19th and 20th at Georgetown.

Puerto Rico’s energy grid was devastated, creating the longest blackout in American history. In all, Hurricane Maria has caused a loss of 1.25 billion hours of electricity supply. To my knowledge it was not handled like the on the mainland where power companies banded together to send work crews from all over the east coast and Canada to repair the hurricane damage in the US. I won’t comment on the efforts of the US government and its reconstruction contracts.

Instead, I’d like to talk about diversification of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. Distributed systems change the way we think about failure. It has always been an opinion of mine that we talk about the failure of power production in disaster areas when it’s transmission that fails 99% of the time. As technology continues to grow in the direction of decentralization, we realize that making such technology highly available takes top priority.

The use of MicroGrids within communities is a high-availability strategy that creates a solution that is independent of the government and power companies (but does benefit from regulation to promote interconnection). In effect using smaller systems is self empowering and also means a faster mean time to repair.

Now, the goal of the summit is not only to talk about infrastructure, but about how to finance its construction. As we all know, Puerto Rico has financial woes and innovative support in the reconstruction of Puerto Rico will be of paramount importance.

The Foundation and the Society have come up with an interesting approach to raising the funds necessary. They wish to promote the creation of cryptocurrency tokens to act as bonds for the development. This enables investors to look at the project independently of the financial problems the government faces. According to Joe McKinney, CEO of the Startup Societies Foundation, “by combing green infrastructure, blockchain technology, and innovative policies, Puerto Rico can become the next leader in sustainable resources.”



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