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

Joe Romm ThinkProgress

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.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work