How You Can Help Puerto Rico Rebuild Following Hurricane Maria

Concrete power line poles lie on a highway after Puerto Rico was hit by Hurricane Maria.

Many of you in the microgrid industry have asked me what we can do to help Puerto Ricans get the lights back on quickly, and cleanly.

Seven weeks after Hurricane Maria wiped out 100% of the ailing power grid, 70% of Puerto Ricans still do not have electricity, and many expect it will take a full year to restore the whole island.

We all know that solar + storage microgrids can be installed much faster than rebuilding the obsolete, centralized grid that had been powering the island, and that these systems could be much more resilient to future hurricanes and fuel disruptions while bringing economic benefits to Puerto Ricans.

Help Puerto Ricans Now: 5 Worthy Non-Profits Bringing Power to Puerto Rico

We have found five non-profit organizations that are on the ground in Puerto Rico today, bringing microgrids to the places that need it most.  We have vetted these organizations and, if you want to get the lights on for Puerto Ricans before the end of the year, they will make good use of your money or equipment.

Empowered by Light – FUND Solar+Storage+ Clean Water for Fire Stations Empowered by Light is installing solar + storage on fire stations in communities that will otherwise be without power of any kind for many months. These systems power critical loads and enable the stations to better serve as community centers in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. They are also deploying water desalination and purification systems that produce 250 gallons of water daily–enough to provide essential drinking water to over 500 people.
Good360 – FUND Solar for Schools and Community Centers Good360 specializes in efficiently distributing critically needed product throughout the entire cycle of disaster-impacted regions around the world.  Needed product in Puerto Rico includes solar products, water filters, and all types of cleaning and rebuilding materials.  Puerto Rico partners so far include Salvation Army, Crisis Response International, Ninos De Nueva, and St. Vincent De Paul.
Solar Puerto Rico – FUND Off-grid Solar Kits PJ Wilson, the founder of Renew Missouri(LINKED), is in Puerto Rico distributing small off-grid solar kits, consisting of solar panels, batteries, and LED lights.  His goal is to distribute 150 of these systems in the next two weeks.
Resilient Power Puerto Rico – FUND Solar Generators Resilient Power Puerto Rico was launched in the hours following Hurricane Maria’s devastating strike on the island of Puerto Rico. Resilient Power Puerto Rico starts with nimble, targeted efforts to deliver solar generators to the most under-served areas of Puerto Rico as a relief measure to get communities powered up and back in contact, with a planned evolution into long-term disaster-preparedness and clean-energy solutions to impact the entire island.
Solar Saves Lives – DONATE Product or Money for Solar+Storage Solar Saves Lives is a new initiative to coordinate shipments of urgently needed solar and battery storage equipment to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. We are seeking both product donations from the solar industry, and monetary contributions that will go directly to the relief effort. Solar Saves Lives is led by The Solar Foundation in partnership with the Clinton Foundation, Operation Blessing, Direct Relief, and J/P HRO.

The Longer Term: HOMER Energy’s Efforts

Here at HOMER Energy, we are continuing to explore how best to catalyze the construction of solar power systems on schools, clinics, community centers, and ultimately homes and entire communities in Puerto Rico; however, the immediate priority is to get small-scale equipment into powerless communities as quickly as possible.  Alison Mason is the solar/storage expert on our team who is spearheading our effort.  She will be in Puerto Rico next week providing first-hand oversight of these efforts.

We believe that small-scale solar + storage systems can reduce disease, save lives, and help many parts of Puerto Rico. This effort does not replace the need to restore conventional electric service but will be able to reach many desperate communities much faster.  If you would like to help, please direct your contributions to the five organizations listed above.

If you know of other organizations working with solar in Puerto Rico, send us an email at power.puertorico@homerenergy.com.

 

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