Tesla succeeds where Trump flails, brings power to Puerto Rico with solar panels

With three fourths of Puerto Rico still in darkness, solar brings sick kids light and hope.

Tesla's solar+battery restore's power for San Juan's Hospital del Niño. CREDIT: Tesla
Tesla's solar+battery restore's power for San Juan's Hospital del Niño. CREDIT: Tesla

Five weeks after hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, President Donald Trump’s team has only managed to restore power for a mere 26 percent of the island’s 3.5 million U.S. citizens.

Meanwhile the tiny Trump-linked energy contractor that won a $300-million no-bid contract to rebuild the grid, Whitefish Energy, is also under fire.

One businessman, however, has already started to deliver on his promise to help Puerto. Elon Musk has used Tesla’s solar panels and battery storage to turn the power back on San Juan’s Children’s Hospital — and he did it free of charge.

San Juan’s Hospital del Nino serves some 3,000 children on the island, with three dozen critically ill patients who need around-the-clock care.

In a viral Instagram post, Musk explained, “Hospital del Niño (Children’s Hospital) is the first of many solar+battery Tesla projects going live in Puerto Rico. Glad to help support the recovery. Congrats to the Tesla team for working 24/7 to make this happen as fast as possible.”

Also on Twitter, Puerto Rico’s Governor Ricardo Rossello offered his appreciation Wednesday for what Tesla accomplished in just a couple of weeks.

In sharp contrast, Whitefish Energy, an unproven Montana-based firm with two full-time employees that was mysteriously awarded a massive contract to rebuild the grid, has been engaging in a bizarre Twitter war with San Juan’s mayor, even threatening to pull its subcontractors out of the island. Congressional lawmakers and the Puerto Rican governor have already called for an investigation into Whitefish and the award of its contract.

Overall, the Trump administration-led response to the disaster has been, well, a disaster. Headlines from just the last couple of days include, “Puerto Ricans at Risk of Waterborne Disease Outbreaks in Wake of Hurricane Maria” (NBC), “The Struggle for Stability in Puerto Rico,” (WNYC), and “‘Like Going Back in Time’: Puerto Ricans Put Survival Skills to Use,” (New York Times).

Until power is restored, Puerto Rico’s problems will only get worse. It’s time to give the entire grid rebuild job to the company with a track record of success and the only technology that can restore the grid quickly, cheaply and cleanly–Tesla.