Power Ledger Looks to Expand, Provide Help in Puerto Rico
Australian peer-to-peer energy marketplace Power Ledger has hired a new strategic advisor and ambassador to the Americas to facilitate their expansion in the region. The company is aiming first at Puerto Rico, which was devastated due to storms in 2017.
Power Ledger Wants to Help Turn the Power Back
Power Ledger announced in a blog post the hiring of Dante Disparte, an entrepreneur with a focus in global risk and founder of insurance industry firm Risk Cooperative, to head up its efforts to enter the Puerto Rico electrical infrastructure market. The territory suffered widespread damage, loss of life and a huge electrical blackout due to Hurricane Maria in 2017.
According to Power Ledger’s co-founder and chair, Dr. Jemma Green, “Power Ledger has designed a scalable renewable energy platform leveraging blockchain to enhance trust, security and energy resilience to shocks. We could think of no better ambassador for Power Ledger than Dante who has devoted his career, voice and mind to addressing risk, readiness and resilience.”
Power Ledger blockchain-based technology relies on the construction of so-called microgrid resources, such as solar panels with attached batteries, that allow companies and property owners to create and store their own energy. Then they can use Power Ledger’s settlement system to trade or sell their surplus power to other network participants. Power Ledger claims their system will reduce the need for a central electric utility, and improve the resiliency of the network in case of future natural disasters. Puerto Rico has a particularly fragile electrical transmission network, with the majority of power generation occurring on the south side of the island, with major population centers on the north.
The company sees the Caribbean as a promising region their technology, saying that they are prioritizing projects there and focusing in particular on Puerto Rico. They hope to use the territory as a proof-of-concept for other projects in the Americas.
A Search for Solutions to Infrastructure, Economic Problems
Puerto Rico has endured a decades-long recession which caused significant economic damage long before Hurricane Maria arrived. Heavily in debt and out of options, the U.S. territory declared bankruptcy in U.S federal courts last year, and plans to privatize the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa), the sole power utility on the island. A lack of economic opportunity has led to a shrinking population, as many Puerto Ricans have gone to the mainland U.S. to look for work.
Puerto Rico has plenty of other companies beyond Power Ledger interested in helping it to rebuild its electrical grid. Elon Musk offered to have SolarCity build solar panel infrastructure on the island back in October.
The Tesla team has done this for many smaller islands around the world, but there is no scalability limit, so it can be done for Puerto Rico too. Such a decision would be in the hands of the PR govt, PUC, any commercial stakeholders and, most importantly, the people of PR.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 5, 2017
Local partnerships, such as that between Web Capitalists and New Energy PR, are also planning to install renewable energy infrastructure and trade it in a decentralized manner.
Beyond the electricial grid, the government of Puerto Rico has looked to cryptocurrencies and blockchain to help repair its economy. It is offering tax exemptions to businesses and individuals–such as no U.S. federal personal income taxes, favorable business taxes, and no capital gains taxes–to American citizens in hopes of luring innovative new companies to the island. Per CNBC, about 1,400 individuals and 800 business have relocated to Puerto Rico since the tax incentives were enacted.
Have your say. Do you think Power Ledger can help make a difference in Puerto Rico? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images via IEEE Spectrum, Democracy Now
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