Briefing Congress on Rebuilding Puerto Rico

Briefing Congress on Rebuilding Puerto Rico

This piece was originally published in the January 2018 issue of electroindustry.

Joseph Eaves, Director, Government Relations, NEMA

Caption: Anna Pavlova, Schneider Electric (left), and Asaf Nagler, ABB, were among manufacturers and lawmakers who discussed solutions for rebuilding Puerto Rico’s electrical grid.

On November 30, Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, Jenniffer González-Colón, kicked off “Rebuilding Smart, Exploring Ways to Rebuild the Electrical Grid After a Disaster,” a congressional briefing hosted by NEMA where members of Congress and electroindustry experts examined viable solutions for and policy hurdles in disaster reconstruction.

“Puerto Rico needs to get people and businesses back to work, and able to withstand future disasters, or there will be no lasting recovery,” said Representative González-Colón. “To properly rebuild, it is necessary to change the vision of policies like the Stafford Act, so that mitigation of future risk and built-in resilience are required to be a part of the recovery effort.”

Representative González-Colón was joined by Reps. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), all of whom are co-sponsors of HR 4251, the Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act of 2017.

“Puerto Rico must use the catastrophe of recent hurricanes as a catalyst for change. Building a sturdy and innovative grid that uses renewable energy is the best investment the government can make,” added Representative Velázquez, a ranking member of the House Small Business Committee. “We cannot repeat the same mistakes of the past.”

NEMA Members Schneider Electric and ABB Inc. joined as panelists in the briefing. Schneider Electric proposes public–private partnerships for a series of community and critical facility microgrids that would augment reliability of the main grid with islanding capabilities for prolonged outages. ABB states that building a resilient electrical grid is possible with already developed technologies and that repair and rebuilding funding should allow flexibility to deploy existing grid solutions that increase grid resiliency.

Caption: Representatives Nydia M. Velázquez (left), Marcy Kaptur, and Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon co-sponsored HR 4251, the Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act of 2017, which addresses rebuilding the electrical grid in Puerto Rico. Photos by Patrick Hughes

The NEMA staff of engineers and electroindustry experts provided lawmakers and Puerto Rico’s officials with recommendations and guidance documents for a more robust approach to electrical preparedness and recovery. The Storm Reconstruction Toolkit, available in both English and Spanish, outlines how today’s technologies can provide safer, more reliable, and more resilient power systems that can be restored quickly following a disaster.

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