Original Article by: Propane Education & Research Council
(Editor's Note: This is an opinion piece from the Propane Education and Research Council. It is running in the wake of Hurricanes Fiona and Ian, which again highlighted needs for on-site and islandable microgrids and CHP power plants. Friday is PERC's first-ever Propane Day).
In 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, leaving millions of people in crisis. Electricity was cut off to the entire island, and access to clean water and food was very limited. It took almost a year to fully restore power, and in August 2018, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) announced that it had finally reconnected customers to the power grid, ending the longest blackout in U.S. history and the second-longest blackout in the world. Now, in 2022, propane has helped Puerto Rico again after Hurricane Fiona left the area in disarray once again.
“Propane is playing a critical role as communities in Puerto Rico recover from the storm,” said Bryan Cordill, director of residential and commercial business development for the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). “With electricity unavailable in many areas, propane-powered CHP units and standby generators are playing a vital role in getting the island back on its feet."
Empire Gas, located in San Juan, Puerto Rico has supplied propane to homes and businesses since 1967. Founded by Ramón Gonzalez Cordero and Ketty Simounet Bey, Empire Gas is the largest propane supplier on the island.
Empire Gas is helping stabilize the community with propane-powered CHP units. These systems offer an energy solution that’s affordable, reliable, and won’t go down with the electric grid. Here are the benefits of being prepared with propane:
CHP systems use a propane-powered engine, a heat exchanger, and a generator to create electricity that powers a building. Simultaneously, the heat from the unit is captured by the heat exchanger and used to channel thermal energy to applications like space heating, water heating, and dehumidification, to name a few. Using both the electrical and thermal output of the propane CHP system achieves system efficiencies as high as 75 percent.