Puerto Rico remains by some accounts “apocalyptic” following the devastation from Hurricane Maria last month, and President Trump has attacked political leaders on the island territory and the media over Twitter following criticisms of the slow pace of U.S.-backed relief efforts. But Tesla is now sending the U.S. territory hundreds of its battery systems to pair with solar panels and help provide sorely needed electricity.
Bloomberg reported that Tesla is shipping its Powerwall home battery systems along with employees, who are working with local organizations to identify suitable locations and repairing solar panels. CEO Elon Musk has also personally donated $250,000 to recovery efforts, Fortune reports.
All told, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that corporate donations have so far reached $24.1 million for Hurricane Maria relief efforts. It’s not clear whether other automakers have stepped up for Puerto Rico, but Ford and its dealers, Chevrolet, Fiat Chrysler, GM and Hyundai have all pledged money to Hurricane Irma recovery efforts in Texas, according to Reuters.
Puerto Rico and its 3.5 million residents have been mostly without power since Maria struck the island Sept. 20, with generators supplying electricity to only high-priority sites such as hospitals.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Puerto Rico’s dependence on automobiles — it has the fifth-highest number of vehicles per capita in the world, per World Bank data — is complicating its recovery. It cites long lines for gasoline, needed by motorists eager to get back to work and earn some money, but also for the generators being used to power basic necessities.