The U.S. solar industry’s hurricane relief efforts continue. For example, California-based Sunrun and nonprofit Empowered by Light, in partnership with Aireko Energy Group, have announced an expansion of their collaboration to bring solar power critical fire stations in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as part of a continuing effort to provide emergency relief to residents on the island. With five more installations planned, the initiative will equip a total of eight fire stations on the island with solar+storage microgrids, which will power critical emergency systems 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Empowered by Light is delighted to continue partnering with Sunrun, and now with our local construction partner, Aireko Energy Group, to build solar systems to power critical communication centers at five more fire stations without power,” says Marco Krapels, co-founder of Empowered by Light.
“Extreme weather events will continue to have long and devastating impact on communities around the world, and it’s crucial to rebuild with smarter, resilient and distributed energy,” says Lynn Jurich, co-founder and CEO of Sunrun. “Solar power and battery storage can be installed in less than two days to provide immediate relief when the power is down, and then offer a long-term solution by connecting to the grid and providing services to surrounding communities when electricity is restored.”
“Firefighters across Puerto Rico are still struggling to find power at home and work,” explains San Juan Fire Department Lieutenant Francisco Cruz. “These solar and battery systems are bringing our critical equipment back up and running, keeping it on, and enabling us to again serve our communities desperately in need.”
“We are humbled to be in the position to assist our firefighters, who save lives and help the most vulnerable in our community every day,” says Waldemar E. (“Tito”) Toro, P.E., president of Aireko Energy Group. “Installing solar-plus-battery storage systems at these fire stations is a small token of our gratitude to these women and men.”
Two months after Hurricane Maria pummeled the island, approximately half the island’s residents are still without power, according to the partners. Much of the island’s critical infrastructure has been relying on diesel generators in the absence of the power grid, but most of those generators weren’t designed to run on a continuous basis, and as a result, many are failing. Sunrun says its systems are constructed to withstand high winds and harsh weather over their multi-decade lifetime.
In addition to providing immediate support to a portion of the island’s critical infrastructure, Sunrun and Empowered by Light hope their efforts, in partnership with Aireko Energy Group, will encourage rebuilding efforts to include renewable energy technologies. The announcement to install solar on five further fire stations was made possible, in part, by funding from the Kresge Foundation, as well as hundreds of individuals who have made contributions to support the effort.
These projects are yet another example of the industry-wide effort to help restore power and harden the electricity systems in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Earlier this month, The Solar Foundation joined with other organizations and stakeholders in launching a Solar Saves Lives initiative to continue the industry’s disaster relief work.