A Few Ways to Help Puerto Rico Build a New Renewable Energy Infrastructure

 Photo: Carlos Barria

Photo: Carlos Barria

by Justine Burt

The lights are coming back on slowly in Puerto Rico. As of Dec. 15, three months after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico, only 64% of the island has power. A crew of 450 power line workers from New York’s ConEdison utility are working 16-hour days to repair lines in the capital of San Juan. Several hundred more Army Corps of Engineers employees are repairing infrastructure outside of the capital. While this work is important to get the island up and running again, in truth, repairing the electricity grid that runs on 98% fossil fuels should be a temporary fix until solar panels, wind turbines, and energy storage can be installed to generate clean, reliable electricity.

If you want to help Puerto Rico, here is something you can do now. My husband and I are working with the 501c3 non-profit The Solar Foundation in Washington, D.C. to bring solar panels and battery backup to a small, rural hospital in the low-income, mountainous region called Jayuya. The $15,000 we are raising is for a solar emergency microgrid (5kW of solar panels and energy storage) so in the future the hospital will have uninterruptible power to run life-saving equipment, refrigeration for medications, and power the lights. 

Two things you can do to help are:

1.     Visit our crowdfunding page and make a donation: https://igg.me/at/HHrKz4LTa5Y (donations are tax-deductible)

2.    Spread the word about the crowdfunding campaign to your friends and family by email and social networks

As of Dec. 21, we have raised 25% of the total funding needed. Once we get to the 50% mark, we will boost this campaign through Facebook. Local solar installer New Energy is currently drawing up engineering plans for the system. As soon as we raise $15,000, New Energy will begin construction of the solar emergency microgrid for the small hospital in Jayuya, Puerto Rico.

With this project we are in good company. Elon Musk's Tesla installed solar photovoltaics and energy storage at the San Juan Children’s Hospital back in October. Jayuya’s solar emergency microgrid will bring power to a vital community resource in a rural area that is still without power. I’m hoping this project will inspire other community groups to come together to help Puerto Rico.

Thank you for helping to spread the word.