As part of today’s celebration of “World Red Cross Day,” the organization announced that 77 schools throughout Puerto Rico that serve as emergency shelters are already being outfitted with micro solar networks that will provide energy when the power goes out.
So far, of the 77 schools that are in process, 35 already have the micro networks installed and 42 are in the construction stage. This equipment will allow energizing essential areas such as the kitchen, shelter areas and bathrooms.
“It gives us great satisfaction to know how far we have come with this project that will be of benefit not only for the school, but for the entire community adjacent to the school; and more so now that the next hurricane season is approaching,” said Lee Vanessa Feliciano, regional executive of the American Red Cross Chapter in Puerto Rico.
During the regular year, these micro networks will prevent students from losing class time when the power goes out in their school as the equipment will energize the school cafeteria.
This initiative is possible through an investment of more than $20 million, as this media outlet reported last August.
Some towns where micro solar networks have been installed in schools are: Adjuntas, Aguas Buenas, Aibonito, Arecibo, Barranquitas, Caguas, Camuy, Cidra, Hatillo, Jayuya, Juana Diaz, Lares, Manatí, Morovis, Naranjito, Toa Baja, Utuado , Yabucoa.
The project’s two pilot sites were: Ramón Quiñones Medina School in Yabucoa and Leoncio Meléndez School in Las Piedras.
Some of the requirements that were taken into consideration in the selection of schools were that the facilities have the capacity to serve between 80 and 500 people seeking shelter, support the communities most affected by Hurricane María and that the schools are located in isolated areas.
In addition to the installation, the American Red Cross will support the maintenance of this equipment for the next three years.
The solar panels installed have the capacity to withstand winds of up to 160 miles per hour and have batteries that will support the operation of the shelter and the school cafeteria. The effort is in coordination and in collaboration with the Education Department, the Public Buildings Authority and the Central Office of Recovery, Reconstruction and Resiliency, known as COR3.