Puerto Rico is the "Sandbox" for the resilient distributed Grid of the future
Virtually all modern social, economic, and political systems rely first and foremost on a robust and stable infrastructure. This is Puerto Rico’s most glaring weakness laid bare by the destruction caused by hurricanes Irma and Maria - destruction that had parts of the island revert to a frontier economy for months and months. The energy infrastructure was decrepit before; now it is past salvage. Puerto Ricans desperately need new, resilient infrastructure.
But...No Money! Huge Debts! Bankruptcy! Shrinking Economy! People are Leaving! And...Puerto Rico lacks many of the financial, business, and legal skills and other forms and methods that larger established markets take for granted when faced with capital formation for recovery and transformation.
It is strange then that this precarious situation has paradoxically created fertile conditions for transformation and a globally unparalleled opportunity to build back a first-of-its-kind modern system of infrastructure. It can be done well, or poorly, but transformation IS happening.
Intrepid entrepreneurs are moving in because, among other things:
- Compared to functioning utility markets there is limited obstruction, no one saying "if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”
- Government at all levels are actively supporting investment and transformation, essentially saying, “its broke, fix it, anybody!”
- Consumer demand – the entire population, literally, understands the intrinsic value of distributed gen and resiliency and they want it,
- Potential federal money and other support will flow from rebuilding efforts (though it is still uncertain as to when, how, how much) and some of this will be available to transformative efforts,
- US laws and jurisdiction,
- No currency risk. and
- A mostly favorable tax situation.
Puerto Rico is now and will be for years to come the "sandbox" where clean and sustainable energy technologies, business practices, financial innovation, dynamic regulatory structure, and political will are all tested and refined to create the modern, resilient, distributed grid and energy infrastructure of the future. Lessons taken from Puerto Rico, both good and bad, will inform new technologies and practices that will be applied in the transformation of core infrastructure worldwide for decades to come. If it happens, it will probably happen in PR first.
This represents a monumental opportunity. Thoughtfully nurtured, this asset can be positioned to unlock investment, spur economic development, and accelerate recovery for Puerto Rico.