How Puerto Rico Could Turn Disaster into a Decentralized Paradise

Via The Daily Bell

Could the massive failure of the Puerto Rican government-run energy grid be a blessing in disguise? It has the potential to set Puerto Rico on a course of self-sufficiency and individual empowerment for decades to come.

Many Puerto Ricans are still without power from the large-scale grid failure after Hurricane Maria last fall. Some are not expected to be reconnected to the grid until April or May.

Community Solutions

One of those communities took matters into its own hands and set the local school up with solar panels. Plans to set up rainwater collection and filtration are also in the works. This would make the school entirely off-grid, and a perfect community shelter in the event of other natural disasters.

The Daily Bell recently published an article called 7 Reasons to Shut Down Public Schools Immediately and Permanently. Praising an off-grid public school seems like a contradiction.

But Puerto Rico announced plans to introduce a school voucher program so that students could take a portion of a school’s funding with them and apply it towards another public or private school. Perhaps a school which is off the grid and teaches kids about solar and rainwater systems will flourish. Competition always helps to improve things.

This doesn’t come close to solving all the current problems with mainstream schooling. But the off the grid school couple with school choice can be seen as a decentralization of government, with the community more in control. And that seems like a step in the right direction.

Individual Solutions

Puerto Rican companies in the solar industry had a hard time convincing consumers of the need for solar energy and storage before Hurricane Maria. But now, everyone understands the value of being off the grid. It means you don’t sit around waiting and hoping for the government to come save you. You are in control of your own energy production and use.

While Puerto Rico has introduced plans to privatize their power company, the old system is not out of the woods yet. They need a $300 million loan if they want to avoid rationing power.

“Very few people really looked at storage as a solution, because — well, they saw it as something costly and that…it was not a critical need,” said David Portalatin, CFO at local solar contractor Pura Energía. “Now, what Puerto Rico is talking about is having energy independence, and everyone wants battery storage.”

And naturally, demand for entirely off the grid systems has increased.

Right now, that is a reaction to circumstances. But it could lead to more self-reliance in general, and personal responsibility. For instance, you need to better monitor your electricity usage when you have an entirely separate system. You have to understand what is draining the system. It means being more aware of your day to day power usage, instead of just flicking switches, and only monitoring the bill.

But completely off-grid systems are not the only solution. Puerto Rican solar companies also see the potential for decentralized systems. A cluster of houses or communities could all link up, and instead of having to store all the electricity generated, one building’s solar panels could supplement another’s when their needs exceed their capacity and vice versa.

Some people are concerned about uncertainty driving the industry in Puerto Rico. But uncertainty is a fact of life. As the failure of Puerto Rico’s public utilities demonstrates, they only provided a false sense of security. People shouldn’t have to rely on centralized institutions which they cannot control.

Instead, people can take control of their lives, and refuse to be victims of circumstances out of their control. Who knows, it might spark a whole new interest in other off-grid self-sustaining ventures. Passive energy “earthships” are designed to use the constant ground temperature, and the difference in the height of the sun from winter to summer to naturally cool and heat homes.

People might realize they cannot always depend on others for food, and healthcare as well. This could provide the spark to decentralize the political structure of Puerto Rico, and serve as an example of the benefits.

In mainland USA, we have only gotten a taste of why “preppers” and off-gridders are not so silly after all. Do you think it will take a major disaster like the one in Puerto Rico to convince people to take responsibility for their own necessities?

You don’t have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

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vegas Sun, 02/25/2018 - 09:32 Permalink

Puerto Rico is a complete shithole, and while some may go solar, the vast majority of native Puerto Rican's are interested in only 3 things; 1) more benefits for doing nothing, 2) voting for idiot politicians who not only created the problems but amplify them, and 3) blaming others for their negligence, incompetence, and corruption. Not in anybody's lifetime are things going to change cuz nobody in power wants anything to change. The island is run completely by oligarch families who put their puppets into power ... challenge the system, and people in your family "mysteriously" lose there freebie benefits ... Asking for change and expecting change in a completely corrupt society is foolish.

Endgame Napoleon Snaffew Sun, 02/25/2018 - 21:57 Permalink

People are unaware of how the US welfare system works, very much including most politicians, or if they know how the programs work, they are lying about it for electioneering purposes.

Welfare most certainly is not widely available to most Americans.

It is available to citizen and non-citizen parents in single-earner households, when they work part time, staying below the earned-income limit for the programs. They must have kids under 18 in their custody. They cannot work full time; they would exceed the earned-income limits for the programs.

EBT alone has approx. 43 million recipients.

The welfare system—in addition to moms working part time to add keeping-up-with-the-Jones’ money to a spousal income—is why so many jobs offer low wages and part-time hours, making it impossible for single, childless, welfare-ineligible citizens to cover rent than absorbs more than half of their earned-only income. Employers can always find an ample supply of moms with unearned income for womb productivity, willing to accept low pay and part-time hours because “they have somethin’ comin’ in.”

It is a rigged, rigged system, which people lie about all the time.

I mean the broader definition of welfare, not just the monthly cash assistance available to some single moms, i.e. those meeting an earned-income limit that is about $50-per-month lower than the earned-income limit for their free EBT groceries. Earned-income limits also apply to their free or subsidized rent and their free electricity.

All of that monthly welfare (and more) is available to singe moms and immigrant households with US-born kids and a sole, male breadwinner, in addition to their refundable child tax credits of up to $6,444 to spend as they please. Many moms boast about spending that child-tax-credit welfare on trips to the beach with boyfriends. You can do that when rent and groceries are covered by taxpayers.

They also get o’ plenty of help from the children’s grandparents in most cases and untraceable help from boyfriends in many cases.

Regardless of how low their earned income is, Americans without kids under 18 — the vast majority of Americans — are eligible for zero welfare beyond 3 months of food assistance (only) at approx. $144 per month. Three years later, they can apply for another 3-month allotment of food assistance (only).

All of the pay-per-birth welfare and child-tax-credit welfare is 100% non-contributory. Single moms and the households of legal / illegal immigrants do not pay one dime into the multiple welfare systems that cover their major household bills, whereas the Social Security that all citizens receive after age 65 takes 7.65% (the employed) or 15.3% (the self-employed) of every penny earned of those making less than the $127,200 SS cap.

When you are a self-employed, single, childless citizen, with only earned income to cover unaffordable rent and every other bill, and with a laughable tax return of few hundred bucks, not a $6,444 child tax credit to reward sex and reproduction on top of monthly welfare, you must pay twice as much SS tax as a momma with her big ol’ $6,444 child tax credit.

You pay 15.3% SS tax on every $200 gig job. She pays only 7.65% in SS tax. When you are employed, rather than self employed, working your can off and meeting the quotas—every day, all day long—your paychecks are lower than the mom in the next cubicle, even though she takes off mornings, afternoons, days and weeks for kids beyond PTO and pregnancy leaves without bothering to meet the quotas.

Government makes sure that her paycheck is higher via the rigged tax code.

It also affects hiring / retention, with many “voted best for moms” workplaces openly and dramatically discriminating, hiring near-100% childbearing-aged moms with “somethin’ comin’ in” from spouses, ex spouses or welfare and child-tax-credit welfare that makes low wages and part-time work palatable.

No, it is not very self-sufficient, albeit the non womb productive are held to VERY different standards, with the womb productive almost entirely above firing in the many absentee-mom-gang jobs and above criticism even.

No, it is not just Puerto Rico.

In reply to by Snaffew

stacking12321 vegas Sun, 02/25/2018 - 14:04 Permalink

moronic comment.

an adult can make his own decision as to what course of action his life will take, doesn't matter what "the vast majority of native Puerto Rican's" (sic) are doing.


"Asking for change and expecting change in a completely corrupt society is foolish."

yes, that's why you don't ask for, or expect change from others, you make your own change.

if you don't have an independent mindset and make your own decisions, you'll forever be following the herd.

In reply to by vegas

DrLucindaX Sun, 02/25/2018 - 09:47 Permalink

Puerto Rico is being set up as a pedophile paradise by Brock Pierce, the Hollywood child rapist turned Bitcoin billionaire who is featured in the documentary "An Open Secret." Anyone who writes about PR becoming a "decentralized paradise" without acknowledging the dark history of the people behind the movement is immediately suspect. Thus, The Daily Bell is no longer a site I will trust or read, whether on its own pages or Zero Hedge's.

swmnguy Sun, 02/25/2018 - 10:00 Permalink

The Oligarchs prefer Puerto Rico as a sinkhole for corruption, dependence, and cheap labor within the United States but without the autonomy of statehood.

We talk about the states as "Laboratories of Democracy," until they cross the Oligarchs.  Then the Jeff Sessions' of the world impose Federal dominance.  Puerto Rico isn't a state, despite a long-standing statehood movement. 

The Oligarchs want Puerto Rico as a Laboratory of Colonialism, and would like to impose that model on the rest of us, as they advance their agenda of atomizing civil society in America by convincing Americans that civil society and representative democracy have failed and we need a strongman Dictator to use State Violence against the citizens to impose a Plutocratic Oligarchy.

Anybody who didn't learn from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina should learn from Hurricanes Maria and Harvey; the interests of the Oligarchs will be attended to immediately, both where the Oligarchs want things fixed (Houston) and don't (Puerto Rico).

Lumberjack Sun, 02/25/2018 - 10:26 Permalink

A 10kW set of decent solar panels...$13,000

A 9.8 kWh battery set...,$12,000

this does not count cabling, inverters, installation...

Small cabin in the woods setup.

typical small household daily usage...15kWh

Good Luck...

Lumberjack Arnold Sun, 02/25/2018 - 11:45 Permalink

You need 24 of these batteries to have solid long term storage and supply. Built a few of these...

$42,000. (7,632 lbs)

better have a good backup generator as well. Propane is a better option (cooking, heating, clothes drying etc.). Add a lot more panels too. 

2-48v banks connected series parallel.

add a good 10kW+ 48v inverter. And solid lightning protection.

In reply to by Arnold

New_Meat Lumberjack Sun, 02/25/2018 - 16:24 Permalink

Rochester, NY, that oh-so-sunny locale, went all green PC/SJW a coupla' years ago.  They wanted the City Hall to be fully self-sustaining.  For grins, we did the calculations over lunch

  • Cover a big chunk of the cityscape with panels
  • Batteries for those gray cloudy snowy days
  • Inverters and cabling as you say

Just on a first-cost basis, the payback was 104 years neglecting any cash outlays for O&M, replacement panels, etc. -- at 1% interest rate.  Above that had an infinite payback.

The thing was touted as a "savings" to the community ;-)  I don't think they "went forward."

The alternative we though of was to sell those cloudy days to the sunny areas, all in the name of "climate equality."

In reply to by Lumberjack

Hope Copy Sun, 02/25/2018 - 11:52 Permalink

If  they go to biomethane and LNG they could have all the power they need.  Gas lines will be cheaper to install than power lines.  THE rates they are paying justifies the switch to locally generated power.  Plenty of used generators on eBay (from gas turbine to small business piston powered).

brianshell Sun, 02/25/2018 - 11:57 Permalink

For an island to thrive, it needs to be useless. When no superpower can find a single reason to covet or befriend it and cannot see any threat from it, then that island will be free to evolve on its own.

What happens after that is up to God.

Old Poor Richard Sun, 02/25/2018 - 12:02 Permalink

" One of those communities took matters into its own hands and set the local school up with solar panels. Plans to set up rainwater collection and filtration are also in the works. This would make the school entirely off-grid, and a perfect community shelter in the event of other natural disasters. "

Beware that the authorities are extremely hostile to off-grid anything.  Collecting rainwater is a crime in some states, could be made a crime in Puerto Rico if it isn't already.  Solar power systems are forced to connect to a grid in some states and run on power company terms.  Almost unbelievable but true: it is a crime to power your own house with your own panels in some states.  Your panels have to feed back to the grid only and you have to tap from the grid only.  If the grid goes dark your house goes dark while your panels sit idle.  Resiliency threatens the corrupt and fascist corporate-state complex that rules America.

Once the government finally gets the water and electricity turned on in Puerto Rico, watch them shut down or confiscate these self-reliant systems and threaten these self-reliant people.  I'm sure bribes were passed just to be allowed to turn this on in the first place.  Puerto Rico is as corrupt as New Jersey or Haiti or Nigeria. 

SmittyinLA Sun, 02/25/2018 - 12:09 Permalink

Anybody else see a problem with relying on solar for off grid power in a disaster?

Solar panels and 200 mph winds don't mix, the solar panels fly off and go down long before the powerlines, if they don't fly off they get beat to shit with debris.

Of course if I lived in PR I'd have solar and windmills and generators and a grid hook up.