“Prendiendo las Luces”

Addressing the Electricity

Crisis in Puerto Rico

Jackson, Jhoni. “The Puerto Rico Most Travelers Miss.” AFAR Media, AFAR Media, 9 Aug. 2022, www.afar.com/magazine/the-puerto-rico-most-travelers-miss-the-mountains.

Who Are We?

Terrascope is an MIT learning community focused on finding solutions to challenges related to the environment and sustainability. In the fall of 2023, first-year Terrascope students took the class “12.000: Solving Complex Problems,” where they were tasked with finding ways to address the electricity crisis in Puerto Rico. This student-created website presents our proposed solution and resources related to renewable energy implementation, maintenance, and education.

Overview: Electrical Grid Instability

The electrical power grid in Puerto Rico is unreliable, especially during hurricanes and other natural disasters1. This loss of power can be a matter of life or death for residents with certain medical conditions2 and puts processes such as education on hold3. Mountainous areas are some of the most under-resourced regions on the island due to their challenging terrain, which makes access to power difficult4. Within these regions and throughout Puerto Rico, schools often act as community centers, especially during times of crisis5. Unfortunately, many schools’ abilities to function as community hubs and emergency response centers are limited by a lack of reliable alternative power sources6. To provide reliable power to these facilities, we propose a four-step solution involving the implementation of renewable energy: (1) selecting an optimal energy source based on geographical factors, (2) estimating the cost with financial calculators, (3) acquiring funding and materials, and (4) educating the affected populations on the impact and maintenance of these systems.

Scroll down to learn more about our Problem Statement, Background Information, and Solution Proposals.

juliouscm. Pixabay, pixabay.com/photos/sunrise-puerto-rico-ciales-4720502/. Accessed 22 Nov. 2023.

The Problem

Schools in mountainous communities of central Puerto Rico do not have access to consistent, reliable electricity, and are especially vulnerable to devastating power outages during natural disasters.

4-Step Solution Proposal

Slide 1
Step 1: Selection

Select the optimal renewable energy source for different locations based on geographical factors.

Image: Unsplash. “Photo by Wenhao Ryan on Unsplash.” Unsplash.com, 27 Apr. 2019, unsplash.com/photos/landscape-of-a-mountain-jEUEpfjpe6Q. Accessed 22 Nov. 2023.

Slide 2
Step 2: Estimation

Calculate the estimated cost of implementing different types of renewable energy.

Image: Unsplash. “Photo by Wei Zeng on Unsplash.” Unsplash.com, 22 Jan. 2020, unsplash.com/photos/city-near-body-of-water-during-daytime-48iZAbNgU8U.

Slide 3
Step 3: Acquisition

Learn how to acquire funding for alternative power sources via financial aid opportunities such as grants and nonprofits.

Image: Unsplash. “Photo by Wei Zeng on Unsplash.” Unsplash.com, 22 Jan. 2020, unsplash.com/photos/gray-concrete-road-between-green-trees-under-blue-sky-during-daytime-FUF9QWMMO_8. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.

Slide 3
Step 4: Maintenance

Find community education resources for energy system maintenance.

Image: Unsplash. “Photo by Wenhao Ryan on Unsplash.” Unsplash.com, 6 Apr. 2019, unsplash.com/photos/raging-waterfalls-Tfkx4W37xuI. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.

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About Terrascope

Learn more about the MIT Terrascope class of 2027.

  1. Foimbert. “Five Years after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico’s Power Grid Is Still Costly and Unreliable.” CNBC, 22 Oct. 2022, www.cnbc.com/2022/10/22/puerto-ricos-power-grid-is-still-costly-and-unreliable-after-hurricane-maria.html.
  2. Niiler, Eric. “Puerto Rico’s Slow-Motion Medical Disaster.” Wired, Conde Nast, 29 Sept. 2017, www.wired.com/story/puerto-ricos-slow-motion-medical-disaster/.
  3. Ujifusa, Andrew. “Crumbling Classrooms and Power Outages: Inside Puerto Rico’s Storm-Damaged Schools.” Education Week, 7 June 2021, www.edweek.org/leadership/crumbling-classrooms-and-power-outages-inside-puerto-ricos-storm-damaged-schools/2018/02.
  4. Florido, Adrian, et al. “Restoring Power to Puerto Rico’s Last 2 Percent.” NPR, 3 May 2018, www.npr.org.
  5. “The Role of Schools in Puerto Rico Communities.” Giving Compass, 2 Sept. 2020, givingcompass.org/article/the-role-of-schools-in-puerto-rico-communities#:~:text=Schools%20in%20Puerto%20Rico%20serve,community%20core%20for%20their%20neighborhoods.
  6. Slanger, Dan. “Schools Stronger than Storms.” RMI, 2 Mar. 2022, rmi.org/schools-stronger-than-storms/.

For information or concerns about accessibility, please visit https://accessibility.mit.edu/.