The Puerto Rico project has been a part of two main projects since the creation of our chapter back in the spring of 2018. The first project focused on creating a solar energy system for Hogar Albergue para Ninos Jesus De Nazaret, a children's shelter in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. This project began in the spring of 2018 and was completed in the fall of 2020, however we are still monitoring the system and working with representatives at the Hogar. The second project is centered around creating a resilience center for the community of Cubuy. This project began in the spring of 2021 and is currently underway.
Mayaguez Project: Hogar Albergue para Niños Jesús de Nazaret is a home that offers shelter, food, transportation, education, social and psychological services to children from infant to 11 years of age who are victims of abuse. After Hurricane Maria’s devastation in September of 2017 and the hurricanes in January of 2020, there has been an energy crisis across the island. The shelter currently pays approximately $800 to $1,000 a month for electricity. The goal of this project was to install a photovoltaic solar panel array with the aim to reduce or completely rid of the children shelter’s monthly electricity bill. The system contains ninety-six solar panel cells on top of three buildings at the shelter, feeding energy into four inverters, connected to a system of three battery banks. Benitez Project: After Hurricane Maria, the Benitez community experienced power outages for nearly seven months, and lost access to running water for about two months. This natural disaster showed the need for self-sufficient resources within Benitez to better equip the community to respond to natural disasters in the future. The community is home to about 1500 people (around 300-400 homes). In order to accommodate everybody, two locations are currently in consideration: Parcelas Benitez and Id Shallah. The resilience center will act as a hub for community members to reliably access power, clean water, and food throughout the recovery period from a disaster.
Spring 2023: Our team officially began project work at the ID Shaliah Community Center. Members have spent the semester completing preliminary system research and applying for grants. At the moment, we anticipate the system to have approximately 15 kW of input and around 40 kWh of capacity in the form of batteries. We currently have seventy-five percent of our funds needed to implement.
November 2021: Working on determining a location and specifications for the community resilience center in the Cubuy community.
October 2020: On October 5th, the system was fully implemented, and commissioning happened on October 9th. The system is functioning as expected and is generating power for the Hogar. Several maintenance/technical documents, such as the Operations and Maintenance Manual, were sent to the community to help familiarize them with the system and walk them through what to do if any issues arise.
September 2020: The inverter/control room was prepped for installation of the electrical components of the system. The room was completed near the end of September.
August 2020: All materials arrived onsite, and the roof was prepped for solar panel installation. By the end of August, all solar panels were installed onto the three individual buildings.
July 2020: Implementation of the system begins.
March 2020: The batteries for the system were donated by Blue Planet Energy, which was the last item to fundraise.
February 2020: The Operations & Maintenance Manual was finalized and reviewed by MAPC mentors. Final designs were sent to Angel and PREPA.
January 2020: A team traveled to the Hogar. The team established connections with contractors, finalized system designs, and further community relations. Finally, they established a timeline for the implementation of the system. Also, we received the Kemper K grant for $12,000.
Fall/Spring 2019-2020 : The team here in Madison worked on completing final CAD drawings and One Lines. Also, the remainder of the funds to complete this project were raised. Angel Zayas, of AZ Engineering, was solidified as an in-country contractor.
January 2019: A team traveled to the Hogar. The team held networking meetings with mentors and contractors, took detailed measurements of the facilities, and established specifications for appliances used in the buildings. They also continued to build relationships with the staff and children at the shelter.
November 2018: We became an official Engineers Without Borders Community Engineering Corps project. We are the first project to operate in Puerto Rico.
October 2018: The Hogar received the First Lady of Puerto Rico grant for $25,000. This money was used to buy solar panels, inverters, and power distribution panels.
August 2018: Professor James Tinjum biked 2,000 km in 2 weeks passing through 4 states and visiting 50 solar sites in 39 cities. During this #BiketheSun trip, he raised $5,000 from corporate donations and $2588 from public donations for the project.
July 2018: We received a grant from Renew Wisconsin’s Solar For Good Initiative for $10,000.
May 2018: We received a Puerto Rico Relief Fund grant for $20,000.
March 2018: Project founded in conjunction with Professor Tinjum at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Ethan Heroux and Allie Stephens are established as the Project Managers.