Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Resilient Power Puerto Rico (RPPR) will provide a resilient solar and storage microgrid system at the Fortín Conde de Mirasol site. The eight kW solar PV and 27 kWh battery system will be donated to the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, that owns the site.
This system will provide reliable power to this essential community resource, ensuring that the Fortín Conde de Mirasol can serve as an emergency hub following major disasters, and ensuring that Radio Vieques can continue its important mission of sharing critical information with the people of Vieques, Culebra, and eastern Puerto Rico.
The partners will hold a commissioning ceremony and press conference shortly after the CGI Action Network meeting in February to announce the completion of the project. The conference will discuss the importance of clean energy and climate resiliency and highlight this installation as another example of a more sustainable path forward for Vieques, and Puerto Rico more broadly, as they move forward rebuilding their electric system. RPPR will also conduct a training for the Fortín site managers on the operation and maintenance of these systems.
The commitment partners plan to engage the community in an ongoing discussion of climate change impacts and solutions to advance climate resiliency for Vieques. The partners will also provide support with operations and maintenance of the system where needed. Additionally, RPPR and NRDC are already working with the community to determine the best path forward for expanding to a second phase of the project.
January 2020 to February 2020: Complete the installation of the solar and battery microgrid; partners will host a press conference, commissioning ceremony, and operations and maintenance training following the CGI Action Network meeting.
March 2020 to May 2020: Additional community engagement; RPPR provides support on operation and maintenance where needed; RPPR supports community in developing plan for second phase of project.
El Fortín Conde de Mirasol, also known as Fuerte de Vieques, is a historical fort located in the town of Isabel Segunda in Vieques, an island municipality of Puerto Rico. In 1991, the fort was restored by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. The site houses Radio Vieques, a nonprofit community broadcasting organization with a focus on education, justice, and peace that reaches tens of thousands of people in Vieques, Culebra, and eastern Puerto Rico. The radio station is an essential source of information for surrounding areas, particularly during times of disasters.
After Hurricane Maria in 2017, the electrical line connecting Vieques to the main island of Puerto Rico was severed, leaving roughly 9,000 people without power, transportation on and off the island, or any communications. Response agencies installed diesel generators to serve the island temporarily, but this power was unreliable and required continuous deliveries of diesel fuel to continue operating. For months, residents with serious medical conditions that required electricity for treatment, such as dialysis patients, had to travel to mainland Puerto Rico for care. Vieques was not reconnected to the main Puerto Rico grid for almost a year and a half after the hurricane.
Due to the ongoing vulnerability of the underwater transmission line, and the significant lack of energy resilience following Hurricane Maria, many organizations identified Vieques as a prime candidate for solar and battery microgrids.
The commitment makers would welcome media support as they announce this project, to call attention to this work and help demonstrate the value of solar/battery systems in improving climate resiliency and in addressing climate change. They would also welcome support from other organizations interested in supporting Vieques in the long-term.
Project partners are holding a press conference to help spread information about the benefits of solar and storage, and drive support to other projects across Puerto Rico. Additionally, the partners will share best practices with other organizations installing solar and storage at critical facilities. As the partners hold ongoing conversations around the future of climate resiliency in Vieques, they hope to engage and provide support to other community serving organizations on the island.