Vieques is a small island in Puerto Rico with 9,000 inhabitants. After six decades of military bombing, the island suffers from toxic contamination and also has an alarming rate of health issues. The cancer rates are 27% higher than in the rest of Puerto Rico. The Foundation Vieques en Rescate (VER) was founded in 2013 with the mission of offering social, moral and economic support to cancer patients that reside on the Island of Vieques and recently completed a project with Blue Ion batteries to become energy independent, overcoming local challenges to provide services.
Hurricane Maria Leaves Vieques In the Dark
Since Hurricane Maria, the island of Vieques has experienced frequent power outages. The island got its power from an underwater cable from the main island of Puerto Rico, but that was damaged in the hurricane, cutting off the island from electricity generation. The local utility company is running large diesel generators to power the island, but they are unreliable and frequent outages cause the whole island to go without power. Under these conditions, many residents requiring regular health care services fled the island over the last year but many others didn’t have that option.
Creating Foundations of Hope
Vieques en Rescate plays a critical role in the community by providing a reliable, consistent source of services for people that need cancer treatment. Sandra Meléndez Rosario, Vice President of VER, explained that after Hurricane Maria, it was critical to have power for communication to arrange appointments and talk to doctors. The facility also provided benefit for the broader community by using part of the warehouse space to keep high-necessity goods that they distributed.
Support through Resiliency Hub Program from Mercy Corps
With the support of Mercy Corps, VER is embracing a new role in the community to be a Resiliency Hub for disaster relief. The Resiliency Hub program involves equipping community centers with off-grid energy independence, water, communications, and gardening resources. On Vieques, VER installed a photovoltaic system with Blue Ion energy storage to be grid-independent. The solar and energy storage system will allow VER to provide the highest quality service to their cancer patients, provide potable water to the community, and be able to assist other community members that need health support. The project owner wanted a long-lasting battery and they wanted the system to be totally off-grid without the need for any maintenance. After evaluating the performance, safety and warranty, Blue Ion was the clear choice.
Resiliency with Blue Ion for Critical Infrastructure
The photovoltaic system and the Blue Ion batteries allow VER to run their daily operations without interruptions. The system powers the administrative office, communications and warehouse area. In the future, there will be an area that will provide chemotherapy treatment. The installation includes 16 kW of photovoltaic panels along with one 16 kWh Blue Ion 2.0, DC coupled with two Outback Radian inverters.
Chris Johnson, COO for Blue Planet Energy, reflects, “We are proud that we get to work with all the partners in this project and with other communities throughout the island to build resilience and energy independence. With storms getting more intense each year, it is more important than ever that we create a distributed network of communities prepared for the future.”
Orlando Lopez, President of Juapi Project Services, commented, “The emergency generators that power the island of Vieques stopped working while we were doing the installation, but thanks to the fact that we had the Blue Ion batteries and inverters we still were able to power the facility even without having the solar panels installed.”
Edgar Oscar Ruiz, Executive Director of Sail Relief Team, commented “We are grateful to have been able to collaborate and partner with everyone involved to make this a reality. We have helped create a resiliency hub in the island municipality of Vieques, that will help not only the community, but the patients dealing with cancer.”
The project was developed by Sail Relief Team, financed by Mercy Corps and engineered and installed by Juapi Project Services, LLC, a Certified Blue Ion Dealer. Additional donations for completion of the project were made by the following: solar panels by Solar Libre, transportation of equipment by Black Flag Search and Rescue, Lithium Ion Battery by Blue Ion Energy, installation of solar panels by Dan Shifley and the team from Global First Responder and funds from Boardroom Events.
Project Partners in Resiliency
About Sail Relief Team: Founded in 2017, in response to the devastating Atlantic hurricane season, Sail Relief’s mission is to bring disaster relief to remote, isolated and under-served coastal communities. We address the three core needs of Response, Recovery and Resilience to preserve life in times of emergency and rebuild quality of life in the aftermath. Sail Relief Team is a fiscally sponsored project of the Burning Man Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. https://sailrelief.team/
About Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps is a global team of humanitarians who partner with communities, corporations and governments to transform lives around the world. Our mission: to alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities. Our 5,000+ team members work with people in the world’s most vulnerable communities across 40+ countries. In the aftermath of every major natural disaster we have responded to since 2004, we have helped develop long-term local solutions to prepare communities for the future. Mercy Corps is helping Puerto Ricans prepare for future storms by conducting preparedness trainings, installing solar power, enhancing internet connectivity and planting community gardens in local community centers. https://www.mercycorps.org
About Juapi Project Services: Founded by the young engineer, Orlando "Juapi" López de Victoria, JUAPI PROJECT SERVICES LLC is a company that provides electrical services in residential and commercial renewable energy projects. The company’s mission is to provide services of the highest quality by offering each client a treatment and respect as if he were the only client of the company, and along the way to promote the economic and social development of Puerto Rico. https://www.juapiprojects.com/
About Blue Planet Energy: Blue Planet Energy is making the promise of grid independence a reality. With Blue Ion – the industry’s most powerful, most reliable, and safest energy storage solution – Blue Planet Energy customers are experiencing true freedom from the old monopoly utilities. Powered by safe lithium batteries, the Blue Ion energy storage system is guaranteed to deliver a higher-quality, longer-lasting solution at the industry’s lowest cost of ownership. Blue Planet Energy energy storage is used across Puerto Rico for businesses, communities and homes in water pumping, off-grid, resiliency, and battery backup uses. To learn more about our technology or join our top-notch dealer network, please visit https://BluePlanetEnergy.com .