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University of Minnesota, Puerto Rico groups explore energy

January 27, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The University of Minnesota is working with partners in Puerto Rico to explore more resilient energy sources after Hurricane Maria left the island without electricity for months in 2017.

A group of university students and faculty met with researchers, nonprofits and community members in Puerto Rico this month to learn about the island’s challenges with energy transition, the Minnesota Daily reported.

The island has an opportunity to try different energy systems because its electric grid was destroyed after the hurricane, said Marla Pérez Lugo, a member of the Instituto Nacional de Energía y Sostenibilidad Isleña (INESI).

INESI is an energy policy institute in the University of Puerto Rico, the island’s public university system. The institute is trying to work with universities and the government to bring attention to Puerto Rico’s resources that can run better electrical systems, such as solar-powered energy and electric cooperatives, said Cecilio Ortiz García, an INESI member.

The University of Minnesota is working on the project as part an initiative by the National Council for Science and the Environment to change how universities interact with communities after natural disasters.

The university’s trip was intended to start a long-term collaboration with Puerto Rico, said Gabe Chan, an assistant professor.

“A lot of universities came after Hurricane Maria but weren’t collaborating,” Chan said. “The idea could be that all these universities interested in working in Puerto Rico could share that information in a broader network.”

The University of Minnesota has invited students and faculty from the University of Puerto Rico to visit in May.

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Information from: The Minnesota Daily, http://www.mndaily.com/

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