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Direct Relief announces $3M in resilient power projects for Puerto Rico health centers

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With the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season starting tomorrow, nonprofit organization Direct Relief is announcing a $3 million investment in new resilient power projects at six Puerto Rico health centers — part of a $5 million commitment to install solar power generation and battery storage at critical sites across the island.

The projects include:

  • Prymed Medical Care-Ciales – A 139 kW solar photovoltaic & 114kW/464 kWh Tesla energy storage system will help ensure that the clinic, located in Puerto Rico’s mountain region, sustains emergency health services through power outages. The project is expected to be completed in late 2021.
  • Neomed Center-Trujillo Alto is the only health center within a highly populated metropolitan area serving vulnerable patients. Neomed also runs a 24-hour emergency room that cannot afford to lose power during an emergency. The upcoming 64.35 kW photovoltaic & 60 kW/162kWh Tesla energy storage system (12 Powerwalls) will ensure that it remains online. The project is expected to finish in early 2022.
  • Centro de Servicios Primarios de Salud-Florida – This clinic serves Puerto Rico’s smallest municipality, Florida, in Puerto Rico’s mountainous region. Residents depend on Centro de Servicios Primarios de Salud for health care, including emergency room visits. 139 kW solar photovoltaic & 114kW/464 kWh Tesla energy storage system will ensure the clinic’s patients will receive healthcare during and after an emergency. The project is expected to come online in late 2021.

Direct Relief is working on an additional four installations in several stages of development in Barranquitas, Ponce, Trujillo Alto, and Vieques, said Thomas Tighe, CEO of Direct Relief.

The executive was in Puerto Rico late last week to inspect the different projects that the nonprofit has completed in Puerto Rico, which he said have served as a model of recovery and resiliency for other jurisdictions in the US mainland that have experienced recent disasters — California, Texas, and Florida, to name some.

Direct Relief deployed a full team to Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane María in September 2017, when power outages were widespread, affecting businesses across the board, as well as the health care sector and its critical services.

Hurricane María demonstrated to the world the extent to which power is a prerequisite for health. The months-long blackout it caused spoiled much of Puerto Rico’s temperature-sensitive medication, rendered its electronic health records inaccessible and its essential medical equipment inoperable and halted vital health services, he said.

The hurricane also prompted Direct Relief to incorporate resilient power as a core element of its humanitarian health efforts. With support from AbbVie and others, Direct Relief has equipped communities across the island with 1.2 megawatts of solar production capacity and 2.6 megawatts of battery storage, including:

  • Installing fully operational resilient power systems at 12 health centers across the island;
  • Outfitting 22 community water pumps with backup solar and battery storage; and,
  • Installing full backup solar power and battery storage on a fire station in Cataño that lost grid power for months, as News is my Business reported.

A second project for a similar set up is in the works for a fire station in Guánica, said Ivonne Rodríguez-Weiwall, executive advisor to Direct Relief in Puerto Rico.

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