Tags: ricardo rossello | puerto rico | power grid | hurricane maria

Puerto Rico Gov: Rebuilding Old Power Grid Not Enough

Image: Puerto Rico Gov: Rebuilding Old Power Grid Not Enough
Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello (AP)

By    |   Monday, 09 October 2017 01:48 PM

Puerto Rico cannot discuss just restoring its old electrical grid, but must make decisions about how it will innovate to make the U.S. territory's services even stronger, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Monday.

"It shows just how fragile our energy grid is, and we can't be talking about just putting back the old grid again," the governor told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."

Just 12 percent of the island has had electricity restored since Hurricane Maria made landfall Sept. 20, Rossello said.

The territory is focusing on ways to work with Elon Musk, who has said his Tesla solar technology could help solve the electrical issues.

Just over half of the island has also had drinkable water restored, Rossello said, so officials are focusing on the logistics needed to get potable water to remote areas where there service has not been restored.

"Today, we're powering up one of the major outlets of water to the northern area, so hopefully we can get that number up," Rossello said.

The hospital situation also continues to be critical, even though they are being powered, mainly by generators, he continued.

"We have about 60 that are powered by generators or by generation," the governor said. "About 10 of them are powered by direct generation. But the reality is, this is a fragile system right now. It is dependent on a power grid that goes up, that goes down, that we need generators, that we need a constant maintenance and repair loop of those generators. We need to fuel them all the time."

The island has received assets such as the USNS Comfort, a seagoing medical treatment facility, but there is only space for 1,000 patients on it.

"The truth of the matter is, we're going to need resources in the long run to make sure that we can reestablish normalcy in our healthcare system," Rossello said. "Our petition right now is to Congress for us to take action right now in immediate relief. We're estimating in the immediate relief effort, $4.6 billion so that we can push forward, you know, what we lose in the economy and the immediate relief process. And of course, later on have a recovery package that's consistent with the damage here in Puerto Rico."

The island is not only recovering from Hurricane Maria, but was still on the mend from Hurricane Irma, which had come through and wreaked massive destruction just two weeks before and "essentially devastating the whole of Puerto Rico and its energy grid."

President Donald Trump has spoken about wiping out Puerto Rico's large amounts of public debt, but Rossello said Monday that as of now, the territory is focusing on its immediate liquidity needs.

"We in Puerto Rico are currently in a legal process called Title 3," Rossello said. "It's sort of a restructuring process. So, really, I can't comment on what should be done in that process because right now I'm in the middle of that proceeding."

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Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossell said Monday his country must make decisions about how it will innovate to make the U.S. territory's services even stronger.
ricardo rossello, puerto rico, power grid, hurricane maria
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2017-48-09
Monday, 09 October 2017 01:48 PM
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