Now is the Time to Build for Resiliency

The tragedy of the recent hurricanes can be a catalyst for the leaders and people of affected communities—together with international partners and the private sector—to transform destruction into opportunity. We see an unprecedented opportunity, even an imperative, to rebuild for resiliency, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability through the establishment of clean, low-carbon power and mobility systems.

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The 2017 hurricane season has proven to be among the top 10 most active seasons ever recorded, turning the lives of countless people and communities upside down. The unprecedented string of storms smashed homes and workplaces, downed trees and power lines, overturned trucks, tossed boats ashore like toys, and destroyed infrastructure, including electrical grids and transportation systems.
While the crucial immediate recovery efforts focus on ensuring people’s basic needs for food, water, shelter, and healthcare, we at Rocky Mountain Institute see longer-term needs. We see an opportunity to support affected communities, cities, and islands in rebuilding their energy and transportation systems better, cleaner, stronger, and ultimately less costly. From 1994 to 2004, U.S. utilities spent $2.7 billion to recover from major storms. Instead of investing much-needed capital into reconstructing the existing 20th-century electricity grid and transportation system based on old technology, these communities can leapfrog ahead with 21st-century energy and mobility systems that will make them far less vulnerable to future storms.

CEO Jules Kortenhorst on Post-Hurricane Rebuilding

“The only structure remaining standing on Sir Richard Branson’s Necker Island is the solar park.”

What We’re Doing

RMI is working in the Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico, to help rebuild smarter and better. We’re working with local stakeholders to replace centralized electricity grids, typically powered by dirty diesel fuel, with decentralized renewable power combined with energy efficiency measures. These new energy systems are more resilient, reliable, and cost-effective, making them less vulnerable to future storms while lowering electricity costs. Similarly, ensuring the rebuilt systems are ready to adopt fast-emerging solutions like electric vehicles, storage, and load shifting will reduce the costly imports of fossil fuels and create a more sustainable transportation system.

This is the kind of work we do every day. We can use our expertise in efficiency, renewable and decentralized energy, and new mobility systems to help rebuild a brighter future for affected communities. We can also harness our Islands Energy Program’s proven energy transition model to rapidly scale solutions in island countries impacted by the hurricanes—now and in the future.

solar panels with tropical forest and trees behind

How We’re Doing It

We take a whole-systems approach to create an integrated plan for the energy sector that reduces costs, catalyzes private sector investment, improves reliability, increases resiliency, and reduces emissions. We start with an in-depth technical and economic analysis of the region, and—working with relevant stakeholders—determine and analyze the options and create an integrated resource plan. We then help put real projects in the ground, as we have done throughout the Caribbean.

Sir Richard Branson on Rebuilding Resiliently

In September 2017, Sir Richard Branson joined us at an RMI press conference in New York City and discussed the importance of building resilient islands energy systems after Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean.

Media Coverage


Solar's Courting Puerto Rico, and the Ravaged Island Is All Ears

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Washington Post

Severe Power Failures in Puerto Rico and Across the Caribbean Spur New Push for Renewable Energy

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Exclusive: Richard Branson setting up green energy fund to rebuild Caribbean

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Fast Company

During Irma's power outages, some houses kept the lights on with solar and batteries

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Storm-ravaged Caribbean is eyeing solar, but it won't come cheap

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Greentech Media

Hurricanes cause 'apocalyptic' devastation to Caribbean power grids

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Green Builder

Resilient Rebuilding in Puerto Rico

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RMI Resources

The Importance of Distribution-Scale Solar for Grid Resilience


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Rebuilding the Caribbean for a Resilient and Renewable Future


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Growing Community-Scale Solar

ShineTM program

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Transitioning Islands to Renewable Energy

Islands Energy Program

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Accelerating the Adoption of Electric Vehicles

Mobility Transformation Program

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