Elon Musk has announced that Tesla has used its solar panels and batteries to restore reliable electricity at San Juan’s Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital), in what company founder Elon Musk calls “the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico.”
The Tesla founder shared photos of the solar-battery project on social media.
— Tesla (@Tesla) October 24, 2017
“Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital) is the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico,” Musk wrote Tuesday.
Musk’s announcement that his company had helped restore the hospital’s power again came less than three weeks after Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rossello tweeted on Oct. 6, “Great initial conversation with @elonmusk tonight. Teams are now talking; exploring opportunities.”
Earlier this month, Musk tweeted that some of his company’s work is being rerouted so it could “increase battery production for Puerto Rico & other affected areas.”
The hospital’s new system allows it to generate all the energy it needs, according to El Nuevo Dia. The facility has 35 permanent residents with chronic conditions; it also offers services to some 3,000 young patients, the newspaper says. As for who’s paying for the power system, the head of the hospital tells Nuevo Dia that for now, it’s a donation — and that after the energy crisis is over, a deal could make it permanent.
Both Rossello and the tech company tweeted about the project this week, with Tesla saying in a post, “Grateful to support the recovery of Puerto Rico with @ricardorossello” — and Rossello stating, “A major contribution of @Tesla to the Hospital del Niño.”
— Ricardo Rossello (@ricardorossello) October 25, 2017
Trump’s Housing Secretary Ben Carson said Wednesday that rebuilding Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria could take up to a century.
Asked how long it will take to restore housing, power and basic essentials to the whole island, Carson said it could take between “one and 100” years in an interview hosted by The Hill on Wednesday morning.
“The people in Puerto Rico have suffered just tremendously,” Carson said, detailing his department’s efforts to help newly homeless American citizens rebuild their lives.
According to the Puerto Rican government, 75 percent of Puerto Rico remains without power and 25 percent without safe drinking water.
The mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city is demanding that the $300 million Puerto Rico energy contract awarded to a tiny two-year-old company from the Montana hometown of Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke be “voided right away,” calling for “a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical.”
On the day Hurricane Maria hit the U.S. territory, Whitefish Energy had only two full-time employees and held a resumé which included repairing a few miles of electrical line in Arizona, according to The Washington Post. The company now has 280 workers on the island, a majority of whom are subcontractors.
A former senior official at the Energy Department and state regulatory agencies said it was “odd” that tiny Montana company would be chosen.
“The fact that there are so many utilities with experience in this and a huge track record of helping each other out, it is at least odd why [the utility] would go to Whitefish,” Susan F. Tierney said. “I’m scratching my head wondering how it all adds up.”
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz told Yahoo News that the contract is “alarming.”
“The contract should be voided right away and a proper process which is clear, transparent, legal, moral and ethical should take place,” she continued.
“It seems like what the Puerto Rican people are going to be paying for, or the American people are going to be paying for, is an intermediary that doesn’t know what is at stake here and that really has to subcontract everything. … What we need is somebody that can get the job done and that has the expertise to get the job done.”
In a statement, Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the contract went to Whitefish because it didn’t need money up front, something the island’s struggling utility couldn’t provide.
“Of all those who met the requirements and aggressive schedules to bring brigades, one was asking for a substantial amount of money — which PREPA had no liquidity for — and another did not require it,” he said. “That other one is Whitefish.”