January 11, 2019
EMPOWERED BY LIGHT AND CASA PUEBLO DELIVER RELIABLE, RENEWABLE SOLAR POWER TO A HOME FOR THE ELDERLY IN ADJUNTAS, PUERTO RICO
Local, Puerto Rican non-profit, Casa Pueblo, and Bay Area based non-profit, Empowered by Light, started the new year with the completion of a solar and energy storage system that will transform La Misericordia, a home for low-income elderly on the west side of the island. Empowered by Light simultaneously completed a solar and battery storage system for the fire station in Adjuntas. Both systems were donated to the community, which has struggled for years with 25% unemployment, low-income levels and poor access to education.
The La Misericordia Elderly Home, which feeds and shelters and provides necessary medical aid to low-income elderly persons, received a 10-kilowatt solar power system with two Tesla Powerwalls (25 kilowatt hours), and the Adjuntas fire station, which serves a community of 9,350 people, received a 6-kilowatt solar power system with one Tesla Powerwall (12.5 kilowatt hours). These two solar and battery systems in Adjuntas support the town’s #50conSOL goal of becoming the first town in Puerto Rico to use solar as its primary energy source. The initial stage of this program aims to power 50% of the community with solar energy by 2027.
According to Arturo Massol, Roddenberry Fellow 2019 and Associate Director of Casa Pueblo, “The partnership with Empowered by Light comes at a time when it is critical to advance the energy transition process in Puerto Rico. The dependency of fossil fuels is dangerous for the people given the island’s vulnerability to natural disasters like Maria.” Added Massol, “These solar energy systems are critical for advancing our goal of ‘50 con SOL’.” “Powering facilities that provide critical care, such as homes for the elderly, with reliable and renewable energy should be a priority in any region prone to severe weather events,” said Moira Hanes, Executive Director and co-founder of Empowered by Light. “The people served by these facilities are particularly vulnerable when the power goes out.” According to Hanes, her organization plans to install solar and battery storage systems on at least two more facilities serving at-risk members of the community this year, in addition to continuing the effort to power more fire stations with solar.
The solar power system at La Misericordia – made possible by a grant from the Wallace Global Fund - will also enable the home to stop using the noisy, polluting and costly diesel generators, the emissions of which were impacting the health of the elderly residents and the social workers who serve them. Keila Santiago, a care giver at La Misericordia, commented, “The solar system will improve services like cooking, storing and maintaining food and medicines, and operating medical equipment like oxygen devices that are required to take care of the elderly. Santiago addes, “With the solar and the battery system, we feel safer as the nights were very scary after Hurricane María and we were not able to provide full medical services to our people.”
During 2019 both Empowered By Light and Casa Pueblo plan to continue their commitment to the people of Puerto Rico. Empowered by Light, using local labor, continues to lead efforts to extend these installations throughout the island and power other critical communities in Puerto Rico. To date the organization has installed solar and battery storage systems on 12 fire stations on the island. Empowered by Light’s efforts in Puerto Rico have been supported by other organizations as well as hundreds of individuals, including The Kresge Foundation, Electric Planet Foundation, Wallace Global Fund, Sunrun, Aireko Energy Group, Cypress Creek Renewables, Givepower, and Zayas Engineering.
Casa Pueblo, is a local Puerto Rican non-profit leading efforts to protect natural resources throughout the Island by extending solar installations to power critical facilities and deliver solar power to people. Casa Pueblo itself has been running on solar energy since 1999, with a goal to promote the energy transition in Puerto Rico to more sustainable renewable energy. Casa Pueblo has deployed numerous solar systems in Adjuntas, including homes, multiple grocery stores, barber shops, recreational facilities, movie theaters, a local radio station, schools and other sites. Empowered by Light is a 501©3 non-profit focused on empowering communities using renewable energy technologies. The organization has developed solar projects in seven countries, helping school-age children study better and longer, and powering conservation centers, ranger stations and indigenous communities in ecologically sensitive areas of the world. For more information about Empowered by Light, visit https://www.empoweredbylight.org/.
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