How solar energy saved a Puerto Rican farm from Hurricane Maria
While his competitors wait for diesel to restart generators knocked out by Hurricane Maria, flower grower Hector Santiago is already back in business because of solar panels powering his 40-acre (16.2-hectare) nursery in central Puerto Rico.
The U.S. territory is in a near blackout, its electricity grid shredded by the storm that slammed into the island on Sept 20. But Santiago’s decorative plant and poinsettia nursery, set amid the jagged peaks of the Barranquitas farming area, has kept working thanks to the $300,000 he invested in 244 solar panels six years ago.
“Everybody told me I was crazy because it was so expensive. Now I have power and they don‘t,” said Santiago, whose flowers are sold in Puerto Rico, at outlets like Costco, and throughout the Caribbean.
While Santiago’s nursery was considerably damaged during the storm, many plants were destroyed and the roofs of some greenhouses blew off, he was able to regroup quickly, with electricity to keep pumping water from his two wells.
Another good case for having decentralised generating capacity.