The village of Castañer in Puerto Rico was selected to receive support for a solar energy microgrid project. This is part of an initiative by the Solar Foundation and Pathstone Corp. to strengthen and expand the solar industry in Puerto Rico and build more resilient communities.
The microgrid project includes a solar and battery storage system for small businesses that provide essential goods and services for the people of Castañer. You will benefit from a clean, inexpensive power source that will continue to provide backup power in the event of future grid disruptions. The community will develop the project in collaboration with the Solar Foundation and the Microgrid Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez (UPR-M).
The development of this project is supported by the Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator (PRSBA), which is funded by a grant from the US Economic Development Administration. Under the direction of Pathstone Corp. and The Solar Foundation is helping PRSBA transform Puerto Rico's energy system through solar workforce development, expanded funding options and technical support for solar companies, and through two solar energy microgrid projects.
Castañer was selected from a total of nine candidates following a rigorous selection process. Castañer is a rural, mountainous parish between the parishes of Lares, Adjuntas, Maricao and Yauco. After Hurricane Maria landed in 2017, the community was without power for six months, negatively affecting all aspects of the daily lives of its residents.
“We are very excited to be working with Castañer on this innovative project that will support the use of clean, renewable energy while increasing the community's resilience to future grid disruptions,” said Carlos Alberto Velázquez, Program Director of the Solar Foundation in Puerto Rico. “From an educational and professional development perspective, engineering students in Puerto Rico have a great opportunity to play a central role in developing new technological solutions with an important social and environmental component.”
“At Pathstone, we are excited to be contributing to economic development in remote and vulnerable communities. We are proud of the alliance we have formed with various organizations to initiate the construction of a microgrid in Castañer and give around 120 people the opportunity to join the solar workforce through our training and employment programs at Pathstone, ”said Rosa Uriarte. assistant director of the Pathstone Enterprise Center.
The Solar Foundation and UPR-M will provide direct support to Castañer in all phases of the project, including presenting sustainable funding options, preparing the request for quotation, project design and project management. The Solar Foundation will also donate solar panels with an approximate value of $ 40,000, which will reduce the overall cost of the project.
The municipality of Castañer was supported by the La Montaña Hydropower Cooperative (CHM), a non-profit organization that aims to reduce the vulnerability to natural disasters and the time it takes to restore electricity to the people of Utuado, Adjuntas and Jayuya. CHM was selected by Castañer as the community representative in the pre-development and development phase of the microgrid.
“This project addresses a longstanding problem in Castañer,” said José A. Vélez, a local business owner. “It's a good initiative, especially because it starts with business people who, along with the school and hospital, are at the heart of the community. Local businesses are creating jobs for the residents of Castañer and have joined the rest of the community to help recover from the emergencies of the past few years. “
The municipal microgrid project is expected to contribute to Castañer's energy resilience by integrating local businesses that have provided vital services in emergencies such as hurricanes and earthquakes. It is also expected to serve as an example for other communities looking to develop projects like this one. The current plans should be in the installation and construction phase of the microgrid by autumn 2021.