ARC’s Commitment to Solar Power for Primary Health Clinics

Commitment by The American Red Cross

In 2019, American Red Cross (ARC) committed to install solar and storage systems at five primary care clinics in Puerto Rico, in the municipalities of Caguas, Gurabo, Morovis, San Sebastián, and Toa Baja. Health clinics were hit hard by Hurricane Maria, with extended power outages causing losses of medicines and compromising clinics' ability to provide care. More than a year and a half since the storm, health centers – especially those in rural and remote areas – still struggle with unreliable access to power. To address immediate energy needs and build the long-term resilience of these facilities, the solar systems will cover at minimum the critical energy needs of each site, allowing them to restore services and ensure continuity of care into the future, regardless of their access to grid power. This project builds off the model of Solar Saves Lives, a 2018 CGI Commitment to Action.



ARC’s Commitment to Solar Power for Primary Health Clinics



Est. Duration

1 Year

Estimated Total Value



Latin America & Caribbean



Commitment by

The American Red Cross

Partner(s) of the Commitment Maker(s)

Clinton Foundation; Direct Relief

To address the needs facing health clinics in Puerto Rico and building on the Solar Saves Lives model, American Red Cross will develop, project-manage, and donate solar-powered emergency backup systems worth a total of $2.5 million at five priority primary health care clinics, located in Caguas, Gurabo, Morovis, San Sebastián, and Toa Baja. ARC will choose local Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) firms, based in Puerto Rico, to complete the installations. Long term ownership, operation, and maintenance of the system will be the responsibility of the health clinics receiving the systems. Through this Commitment, American Red Cross will expand and deepen the philanthropic efforts to ensure life-saving resilient, renewable power for community-serving health clinics in Puerto Rico. ARC will also utilize lessons learned from their Solar School Power initiative, which aims to provide solar to 100 schools in Puerto Rico.
The sites for the installations were selected from 14 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that have previously partnered with ARC, on children’s access to health care and as recipients of 96 donated pharmaceutical grade refrigerators from ARC. The specific five clinics were identified in collaboration with the Clinton Foundation and Direct Relief of the Solar Saves Lives coalition, who had previously assessed these locations for solar and storage.

Each microgrid system will be designed based on the specific needs of each clinic, but will at a minimum cover the critical load of each clinic to ensure the clinics' ability to carry out essential functions - for example, the refrigeration of medicines and provision of emergency services - when grid power is not available. Additionally, ARC will lead the training of at least two staff at each clinic in the operations and maintenance of the solar and battery system.

June 2019 to July 2019: ARC issues contracts for construction of the solar + storage installations.

July 2019 to August 2019: Compete detailed engineering design for each system. Conduct design review. Major equipment procurement.

August 2019 to October 2019: Contractors install systems reaching substantial completion.

November 2019 to December 2019: Complete training of facility staff. Complete turnover package for clinics. Final completion.


On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, causing widespread devastation just two weeks after another large storm, Hurricane Irma, had swept through the island. Health clinics experienced significant damage as a result of Hurricane Maria. The extended power outage resulting from the storm caused the loss of large stocks of medicines and vaccines due to the loss of refrigeration capabilities and some clinics were unable to operate altogether. Many clinics were forced to rely on expensive, polluting diesel generators to provide basic services.

Now, more than a year and a half after Hurricanes Maria and Irma made landfall, much of Puerto Rico remains in urgent need of reliable and resilient power. The entire island continues to experience sporadic, frequent power outages which demonstrate the continuing weakness of the island's electrical system and its vulnerability to even small weather events or disruptions.

Rapid deployment of solar and solar and storage technologies can provide electricity to critical facilities such as medical clinics that serve vulnerable populations. Solar can drive the creation of a more resilient electricity grid, and ensure continuity of care in the face of future interruptions to grid power.

To address this critical need, The Solar Foundation, Direct Relief, the Hispanic Federation, Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the Clinton Foundation came together to launch the Solar Saves Lives Initiative, a 2018 Commitment to Action. Through this project, six priority clinics have been equipped with resilient solar and storage, and another ten clinics are in the construction and preparation phases. Significant progress has been made, but numerous health clinics in Puerto Rico remain in need of resilient, renewable backup power.

Progress Reports