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 installed 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. The second project focuses on creating a resilience center for the Cubuy and Lomas barrios’ 6000-person communities. This project initially began with the goal to support the Cubuy community. However, recently, our team has partnered with Puerto Rico’s nonprofit, ID Shaliah, to include the nearby Lomas community!
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. With the installation of the photovoltaic solar panel, we have saved the shelter $800 per month of electricity. The system contains ninety-six solar panel cells on top of three buildings at the shelter that feed energy into four inverters which are connected to a 64-kWh battery system.
ID Shaliah Project: After Hurricane Maria, the Cubuy and Lomas communities of 6000 people experienced power outages for nearly seven months, and lost access to running water for about two months. This natural disaster showed the communities’ need for self-contained resources to better equip the response to natural disasters. To facilitate recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the nonprofit, ID Shaliah, was founded and began renovating an abandoned school into a community center capable of providing food, self-defense lessons, education programs, medical services, and rental spaces for local businesses. However, there is currently no electricity at ID Shaliah’s site. Hence, we have partnered with ID Shaliah to install a photovoltaic solar system at the community center to provide electricity during natural disasters and normal operations. We believe that the solar system will accelerate the recovery of the community after natural disasters and encourage the communities’ growth by providing power to the various services provided at the center.
Fall 2023: During the 2023 summer, we traveled to ID Shaliah to survey the resilience center site and meet with the ID Shaliah team. From the information acquired on the trip, our team has now begun the design process for a 14.4 kW solar system with 36 kWh battery capacity. We will continue to fundraise throughout the semester. 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.