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Climate Change & Power Outages: Update, Puerto Rico

September 23, 2017

It’s estimated that Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million people are still without power after being hit three days ago with Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane. The recent surge of hurricanes and tropical storms are directly related to climate change because of the warmer ocean and air temperatures. Puerto Rico’s Gov. Ricardo Rosselló and San Juan’s Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz expects it to take months to fix the outage. Hurricane Maria has also left Dominica without any power. Some of St Croix’s power is back on. The past few weeks, three massive hurricanes have been fatal and have caused widespread destruction. But the loss of electricity is the most threatening. Hurricane Irma’s power outage total in the U.S. came close to topping the total from Sandy in 2012, which was 8.7 million customers or about 20 million people.

About a year ago an article in the Washington Post reported on the advantages of building underground energy transmission systems to avoid this exact dire situation.  An underground high voltage direct current (HVDC) network would safeguard electricity from destructive storms, an ever increasing weather event reflecting the effects of climate change. Today, the prospects for those in Puerto Rico with electricity means no food, no running water, no gasoline, could be fatal to many.

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