Op-Ed: California’s giant new batteries kept the lights on during the heat wave
A week after Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico, causing widespread power outages, and more than a week before Hurricane Harvey hits Texas, an energy company’s battery installations in the Caribbean island’s capital continued functioning.
Puerto Rico’s largest energy supplier, PREPA, has contracted with Powerwall, a small company based in San Juan that does the battery installation for Puerto Rico’s electric grid, to install a battery power system in the capital city of San Juan to supply two of PREPA’s large power plants, which currently supply power to the island’s three major cities.
But it’s not just during the heatwave that the PowerWall batteries are being used.
In October, Puerto Rico’s Electric Grid Authority, the island’s largest electric utility, installed a new generation of batteries to keep the lights on during a brief power outage caused by a strike against the island’s electrical grid.
This week, when Hurricane Harvey passed west of the island and turned it’s path toward Southern Texas, Puerto Rico’s power grid continued to function despite the devastation to the island’s energy infrastructure caused by Harvey.
The Powerwall batteries are capable of running on a single-cell battery for up to two days, so they were not able to take over all the power production and distribution for Puerto Rico during Harvey.
It is not that PREPA is keeping the lights on, it is that they are providing a backup supply of power during times of disruption.
In Texas, the battery power on the grid may even be able to keep the lights on during the next landfall of Harvey.
When the electricity to the town of Rockport, Texas went out last Monday, Mayor Jeff Shaver quickly told a local television news station that the city’s backup generators would be able to provide power until Rockport received a generator from the Texas Public Utility Commission.