The del Sol Foundation for Energy Security is a non-profit organization founded by members of sonnen, Inc., developed to oversee the implementation of humanitarian microgrids for relief following Hurricane Maria. The Foundation recently highlighted its success in rebuilding remote communities in Puerto Rico, while demonstrating the capabilities of energy independence on a larger scale.
In the days following Hurricane Maria and the devastation it wreaked on multiple islands and nations in the Caribbean, sonnen, the global market leader in intelligent residential energy storage, partnered with forward-thinking solar energy company Pura Energia, and sprang into action. Together, the organizations implemented the first of what would become 12 microgrids throughout the island, ultimately impacting over 4,000 people per day.
By working closely with community leaders and government officials, del Sol empowered citizens to not only address their daily challenges, but to prepare for future ones. This vision was evident at several sites where locals came together to physically expand the microgrids’ design to power additional applications that demand energy consumption, further inspiring those around them.
Beyond power generation, the microgrids have become venues for community organization, education, commerce, and other day-to-day aspects for each respective region. The technological capabilities enabled citizens to become agents of change, fostering collaboration among some of the most disadvantaged communities in the United States at a time they needed support the most.
This successful intersection of innovation and human emotion demonstrates that renewable energy can represent more than just day-to-day functionality, but is truly a source of inspiration that creates lasting impact.
“While the del Sol Foundation was initially formed to provide physical support to Puerto Ricans in need in the form of microgrids, the greater effect was that of community empowerment and lifting one another to create lasting impact and community growth,” said Blake Richetta, President at del Sol Foundation. “I have been absolutely amazed by the incredible resolve and fortitude of the Puerto Rican people who reside in these poor disadvantaged and often forgotten communities of the United States. Our microgrids were a mere vehicle while the people of this island, who blew me away with their strength and courage, were the true agents of change.”
Notable microgrids sponsored by the del Sol Foundation for Energy Security include:
- A healthcare clinic in the Mameyes Abajo neighborhood of Utuado that provides services to 9,000 low-income people that is now completely off-grid. This facility has literally saved lives and would have been unable to do so without the power produced and stored by the renewable microgrid.
- A building formerly used as a school in the Bartolo neighborhood of Lares, a remote part of Puerto Rico, that was converted into a housing facility for 14 families displaced by Hurricane Maria and forced to live as refugees. Powered by their microgrid, the converted housing facility has expanded into a community center and beacon of hope for its inhabitants, now including a kitchen /café, art classes, psychological counseling and even a farm to produce food for consumption.
- A food shelter in Humacao that lacked the capabilities for simple functions, such as refrigeration of food and generation of clean water. The facility has now expanded beyond the original kitchen to become a large community center that provides art, counseling and a sense of community empowerment to the local people whose lives are still deeply affected by the aftermath of the hurricane.
- S.U. Martrullas, a K-8 school in Orocovis, a remote part of Puerto Rico, was entirely without power following the devastating impact of Hurricane Maria. Now powered by a solar + storage microgrid, the school and its surrounding community are thriving as students have access to fresh food and clean water, as well as school computers powered entirely by renewable energy. Further, S.U. Martrullas plans to remain independent of the grid, even if PREPA service returns to the area. “The impact of the del Sol microgrid has been very important for the community, students and people who work at our school,” said Albert Melendez Castillo, Director at the S.U. Matrullas school in Orocovis.
“The del Sol Foundation’s work in Puerto Rico embodies our ‘hand up, not handout’ mentality of leading through innovation and community organization,” said Adam Genter, Director of Operations for del Sol Foundation. “Our microgrids have instilled hope among local citizens, community leaders and politicians, inspiring Puerto Ricans to rebuild for the future. The entire del Sol team believes Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria will one day be looked back upon as an early example of community and energy resilience not only for the island, but for the rest of the world.”