Puerto Rico’s Community Energy Resilience Initiative (CERI) is celebrating the launch of the construction of three micro-grid solar + storage systems, part of a new model of local energy resilience. Projects under construction now include a total of 132 kW of solar and 108 kWh of storage.
The blended grant and loan finance model, which is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, unlocks access to clean and affordable energy in low- to middle-income communities, improves the energy resilience of critical facilities and allows them to remain operational and serve their city in times of crisis. The CERI team plans to scale to approximately 350 critical facilities in Puerto Rico with the goal of unleashing the power of blended finance to foster equitable energy resilience in other countries, states, and cities around the world.
Energy resilience is critical in the region as hurricanes continue to intensify and increase in frequency, causing immense devastation including power outages. Local energy systems enable the continuity of essential services, including health care, education, food and transportation, during main grid outages.
CERI’s approach was tested with three critical facilities in Arecibo, Patillas and Utuado. Working with CERI partners, each facility was able to design and install a community-owned solar microgrid + storage system tailored to their energy needs.
“Since Hurricane María in 2017, service disruptions have been common, compromising community access to essential services such as healthcare and affecting economic development. The CERI model allows Puerto Rican communities to have confidence in their continued access to energy and to take advantage of cost savings,” said David Haddock, Vice President of Administration and Programs at Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico. (FCPR).
The three pilot facilities were selected following a merit-based process focusing on their role in the community and services provided during outages.
- Instituto Pre Vocational E Industrial (IPVI) serves nearly 2,000 students and community members annually, providing educational and social services to the elderly, homeless, women, and children. The IPVI served as a key recovery point in Arecibo after Hurricane María, ensuring the distribution of much-needed aid to the community.
- The Valentin gas station, located in Mameyes, Utuado, the only gas station and mini-supermarket in the region, provides services to five neighboring communities far from urban centers.
- Jomari Pharmacy is a community pharmacy located in Patillas, providing computer and printing services in addition to medication sales, delivery and consultation.
This model simultaneously addresses another key issue affecting Puerto Rico and the region: dramatic increases in energy prices. CERI uses an innovative and scalable blended finance model accessible to low- and middle-income businesses and nonprofits, in combination with technical assistance and community engagement. The IPVI project will be funded by a combination of local grants and a major donation from clean energy leader Enel North America.
The participating financial institutions for the three pilot critical installations are Banco Popular and CooPACA.
“As we reimagine Puerto Rico’s fragile energy system, it is crucial to ensure that communities particularly vulnerable to power outages have reliable, affordable and clean energy,” said Michael Liebman, Islands Energy Program Manager. of RMI. “This blended finance model in Puerto Rico was created and executed not only to overcome critical barriers to scaling access to resilient, carbon-free energy, but also to ensure that facilities currently paying more than double the average electricity price in the United States achieves significant savings from day one.”
The CERI team plans to develop a demonstration portfolio of 20-40 projects, carried out in coordination with local financial institutions, to further develop this model and gain the efficiencies needed to equitably scale the benefits of energy resilience. on a larger scale. CERI is looking for partners to join the effort and provide support.
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