A prominent Tesla Powerwall owner in Puerto Rico has called on CEO Elon Musk to open up an electric vehicle store in the territory. Israel Melendez, who installed his solar setup in Manatí days after Hurricane Maria struck the territory, highlighted how electric vehicle owners have to ship their cars to the contiguous United States for repairs.
“Every Tesla car owner here in the island is taking a huge risk, if you want to call it that, by owning a vehicle without a real local service option,” Melendez, a scientific cinematographer, tells Inverse.
Melendez made headlines last month after his warm praise for the Tesla Powerwall went viral. He uses an array of 55 standard 220-watt panels set up to provide 12 kilowatts of energy, paired with three Powerwall 2 batteries that store around 14 kilowatt-hours each. He calculated that in one day his roof generated 68 kilowatt-hours, but he only used 25.8 kilowatt-hours, resulting in a 42 kilowatt-hour surplus. Musk retweeted his statistics, and his original tweet received over 23,000 likes.
It’s one of the many examples of Tesla working to restore power after Hurricane Maria hit in September 2017, which left thousands without power. Governor Ricardo Rossello spoke with Musk over Twitter in the aftermath to inspire him to make Puerto Rico his “flagship project,” setting up small solar panel and battery packs as a way of circumventing the hurricane-struck grid. Musk reported earlier this week that he has more than 11,000 projects in the works.
While Tesla has worked to take action on solar power, electric vehicle owners are making more of a gamble with their purchases because the island has no Tesla service centers or stores. Owners looking to repair their car would likely have to ship the vehicle in a container to Florida, a trip that costs $800 each way.
Melendez has called on Tesla to take action before, responding to the company’s call for questions at the annual shareholder meeting. The event is scheduled to take place at 2:30 p.m. Pacific time, at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, with a livestream at this address:
Melendez had high praise for the Powerwall system, months after he’d used it to restore power and switch away from the previous emergency gasoline system.
“It’s one of those things that when you do it, you wish you’d done it before,” Melendez says, describing the system as “magic.”