The Puerto Rico Leapfrog
Puerto Rico has been fallen behind when it comes to energy. The focus now is not on catching up; Puerto Rico is leading the way into next generation power.
The Puerto Rico energy space is particularly interesting for a variety of reasons:
- 1.The electric grid utility model is very outdated and in desperate need of change
- 2.The Puerto Rican congress has passed several laws allowing for utility models not found in most other regions, including much of the United States
- 3.The Puerto Rican government has not long ago developed an independent energy regulator, PREB, which so far has performed its functions in the manner in which it was expected, independent of PREPA
- 4.Puerto Rico has both excellent access to solar irradiation (energy) and the best wind generation resources basically in the United States, south of Alaska, along its southern shore
- 5.Puerto Rican energy generation still relies on very, very outdated generation plants, notably the 40% of the mixture made up of oil fired power plants constructred in the 1950s https://www3.epa.gov/region02/water/water_permits/palosecofactsheetandattachments.pdfNote: yes, the EPA appears to be among the quality sources of information on some of the main power plants operated in Puerto Rico because they are consistently handed fines for their excess emissions and polluting nature.
- 6.Puerto Rico has, if it were a US state, the largest share of its economy made up of manufacturing. The island has attracted and continues to attract many manufacturers, especially biotechnology and aerospace, among others. These manufacturers, of course, require large loads of electricity and have a strong desire for reliable power for their operations. So do their high skill employees living in the surrounding communities.
- 7.If there seems to be one fact about the island that most Americans are aware of, it's that the island is hit by strong hurricanes, including Maria, a major category 5 hurricane that landed directly on the southwest of the island and drove through the center and over the capital of San Juan. Maria illustrated a major fault with the current grid system: it heavily relies on transmission lines running across the island from south to north to deliver power from generation sites far from their consumers, who are mostly in San Juan, in the north.
That's enough about the current situation and if Puerto Ricans don't need more of one thing overall, it's complaining. The island is already home to a variety of projects and people focused on fixing some of these problems using the resources available right on the island. The congress of Puerto Rico passing the laws referenced in the last tab alone is a major step that is uncommon outside of the island.
But if Puerto Ricans don't need more complaining, they especially don't need it paired with bandaids. We don't think so and this is why our approach is not catching up Puerto Rico to the energy standards of places like the States but rather surpassing them and moving onto the next generation of power grid model.
Beyond having significant natural, renewable resources, a talented local workforce, access to US capital in US Dollars, and favorable, smart laws and regulations, the island has a population that is open to large changes and aware enough to understand what they are when they come. We propose engaging with this to implement the next model: shifting the energy marketplace to value consumption flexibility as much as generation flexibility, and spreading it out among consumers regardless of their size or position in the grid. What does this look like?
Energy marketpalces are stuck rewarding only one side of the equation that balances grid systems every moment of its operation. In reality, a unit of electricity not being consumed at one moment is as valuable, sometimes even more valuable, as a unit of electricity generated at that moment. The current utility model, especially in a place like Puerto Rico, does not recognize that and at the same time, rewards utility companies with a margin of additional income off every additional unit of electricity generated and sold to consumers. There is an existing perverse incentive and it is absolutely enormous in scale.
DexGrid proposes shifting over to a newly designed, virtual marketplace of electricity, where consumers individually shift their consumption based on the current value of power. When aggregated across the grid, the small but many market participants on the consumption side make up the equivalent of large power plants. Simply changing the marketplace is not nearly enough, though. A successful implementation of this model requires the current standards of cutting edge user experience models worked on by today's web app developers. This experience must be backed up by the best that prediction technology has now for looking ahead and warning or making recommendations to users based on current conditions and historical data poared through. It also requires a shift away from traditional ledger technologies, such as the ones banking firms use, over to distributed ledger technologies where everyone has equal, fair access to read and add to it.
The solution may seem complex, especially to people who have not approached the problem or these technolgies before. The driver DexGrid can see on the island of Puerto Rico, though, is the end power users themselves, who are hungry for novel solutions to become available for use and alterntives to choose from based on advantages currently unavailable with the old utility company.