COMMITMENT TO ACTION

Renewable Energy for Disaster Innovation in Vieques

Commitment by Footprint

In 2019, Footprint Project committed to design and fund a containerized emergency command center for the Vieques Emergency Management Office, to be powered by solar and storage and located at the primary community emergency shelter for the island. Since Hurricane Maria severed the undersea electrical cable connecting Vieques to Puerto Rico’s main grid, the island has faced significant energy vulnerability. The Vieques Emergency Management Office (OMME) serves as the dispatch center, ambulance bay, emergency planning, operations, and coordination center for the island. The new emergency command center will feature resilient 20kW solar array and a 20 kWh battery bank to power essential loads including radio dispatch, communications, refrigeration, and lighting. The containerized solar plus storage solution will be located at the primary community emergency shelter in Vieques, the María M. Simmons De Rivera School, and serve as a semi-permanent resilience hub and functional office space for OMME’s nine staff.



Overview
Summary

Commitment

Renewable Energy for Disaster Innovation in Vieques

Launched

2019

Est. Duration

1 Year

Estimated Total Value

$70,000

Region

Latin America & Caribbean

Countries

PUERTO RICO

Commitment by

Footprint

Partner(s) of the Commitment Maker(s)

Clean Energy Group; Blue Haven Initiative; The Solar Foundation; SimpliPhi Power, Inc.; HiveCube; BoxPower Inc.; University of Puerto Rico; University of Minnesota
Details

Footprint Project (FP) is working with local community partners in Vieques to plan, scope, and install a microgrid for critical resilience infrastructure. In line with this objective, FP is committing to design and build an emergency command center with a resilient 20kW solar array and a 20-kWh battery bank to power essential loads for a remote operations center for the Vieques Emergency Management Office (OMME), including radio dispatch, communications, refrigeration, and lighting. The command center, a containerized solar plus storage solution, will be located at the primary community emergency shelter in Vieques, the María M. Simmons De Rivera School, and serve as a semi-permanent resilience hub and functional office space for OMME’s nine staff in the case of emergency.

First, FP will convene implementing partners for a community needs assessment and will conduct an energy load survey to determine the optimal system to meet OMME's remote needs. FP will collaborate with Hivecube, a startup based out of San Juan, to design the containerized solution for the emergency command center, creating two temporary jobs. FP will lead the design of a solar PV system for the roof of the center to cover the predicted energy loads. The principal of the Rivera school has already signed a letter in support of the containerized command center being sited on the campus. SimpliPhi will donate the battery storage system.

Following the completion of the assessment and design, FP will acquire the project equipment by sourcing donated materials and procuring additional equipment as needed from local solar entrepreneurs. Finally, following the completion of the installation, FP will review the project goals and outcomes with community members and report progress to donors.

January 2019 – Complete community centered design workshop in partnership with University of Puerto Rico’s Instituto Nacional de Energía y Sostenibilidad Isleña and University of Minnesota’s School of Architecture.
February 2019 – Finalize system design. Conduct energy load assessment at OMME. Begin material procurement. HiveCube begins construction of the containerized OMME command center.
March 2019 – Complete OMME command center and install of 20kw solar PV system. Ship to Vieques. Install the center at María M. Simmons De Rivera School.
April 2019 – Develop maintenance framework and determine appropriate insurance policy.
May 2019 – Report progress to community partners and donors.

Background

Since Hurricane Maria severed the undersea electrical cable connecting Vieques to Puerto Rico’s main grid, the island has faced significant energy vulnerability. For more than a year, three 2MW diesel generators burn an average of 8,000 gallons of diesel every day to meet the islands energy needs. The undersea electrical cable was finally repaired in early 2019, but residents still face significant electrical outages.

All too often, electricity after disasters is provided with polluting and expensive diesel generators. Not only do these generators emit climate change-causing carbon and localized air pollution, but the reliance on diesel supply chains leaves communities at risk of additional disruption. Installing renewable energy microgrids at critical facilities eliminates the reliance on diesel, is more sustainable, and provides energy resilience to the community.

The Emergency Management Office of Vieques (OMME) serves as the primary dispatch center, ambulance bay, emergency planning, operations and coordination center for the island of Vieques. From this office, seven paramedics respond to approximately 5,000 emergency medical calls a year, serving an estimated 8,000-10,000 citizens. This critical facility is currently powered by Vieques’ diesel-based grid, with one functional back-up generator that has had to be repaired multiple times over the past year. As part of OMME’s resilience plan, they have determined the need for resilient power generation and a remote command unit.

The Escuela María M. Simmons De Rivera serves as the primary community shelter in Vieques in case of an emergency and can house up to 500 people. This is the ideal location for a remote command unit for OMME.

Partnership Opportunities

Footprint Project estimates the total cost of equipment, shipping construction and installation to be $60,000. Footprint Project estimates the cost of supporting long-term maintenance and insurance for the facility to be $10,000. Footprint Project is seeking resources to fill this funding gap, in-kind equipment donations, and media support. Footprint Project can provide best practice information, project management expertise, reporting and networking support to other partners implementing solar plus storage in Puerto Rico. Footprint Project is also currently building out their online platform form for sustainability credit trading. Footprint project can provide a hub to connect community implemented solar plus storage projects to renewable energy and carbon trading markets.

Progress Reports