Nonprofit Fellowships

Transforming Puerto Rico's Energy System in Disaster Recovery

Galen Bertozzi spent five months in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria to aid in the development of the country's energy system.

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is a nonprofit based in Colorado, with the mission of accelerating the transition to a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future. RMI's work in Puerto Rico started in the wake of hurricane Maria, which in 2017 flattened 80 percent  of the grid and set off the largest power outage in US history. The average Puerto Rican customer lacked power for three months and the entire Puerto Rico public school system was closed for two months following Maria. The storm highlighted the fragility of the grid and put Puerto Rico in a position to decide whether to continue down the same path of the fossil fuel generation or do something different and build back in a way that is clean, cheap, and resilient to hurricanes.

I joined the team in Puerto Rico as a Fellow from April through August 2018, and our focus there was twofold: 

  1. We worked with policymakers, academics, and industry leaders to craft the vision and develop a road map for the transformation of Puerto Rico’s energy system 
  2. We partnered with Save the Children to design and install Solar microgrids in public schools in remote rural areas

It was truly eye-opening to see how long and demoralizing the disaster recovery process was on the island of Puerto Rico, which is one of six US territories.  It was even more awe-inspiring to witness the resilience and determination of the Puerto Rican people in the face of such extreme adversity. The experience allowed me to flex valuable skills, including procurement best practices, comprehensive electricity dispatch modeling, and stakeholder management.

The Oliver Wyman Nonprofit Fellowship program offers an amazing opportunity for consultants to apply our analytical approach and critical thinking skills to drive real, meaningful, social impact. Climate change is real and will cause more frequent and more severe natural disasters over the years to come, so it is imperative to develop clean and resilient electricity systems, not only in the most vulnerable places like Puerto Rico, but around the globe.

 

This story and others like it appear in the Oliver Wyman for Society Annual Social Impact 2018 Report