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Direct Relief grants $277K to install solar panels in Guanica’s Fire Station

Nonprofit organization Direct Relief inaugurated a $277,000 solar energy project in Guánica’s Fire Station, through a grant from biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, which donated $50 million for these types of projects.

The project will allow for these first responders to continue serving the people even in the event of natural disasters that may affect primary services, just as it happened in Guánica and other municipalities in the southern area of the island after the seismic events at the beginning of 2020.

In 2018, AbbVie made a $100 million donation to accelerating recovery efforts and create long-term impact in Puerto Rico after hurricanes Irma and Maria. AbbVie’s $50 million to Direct Relief supports their efforts to help rebuild, strengthen, and enable resiliency for Puerto Rico’s primary healthcare system in the wake of hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The $277,000 grant was awarded to the organization Solar Responders, for the installation of solar panels and a battery storage system that will guarantee the continuity of operations in the fire station during an emergency, even if the power service is interrupted.

The Fire Station will operate as a help center for the people who will be able to go and connect their medical equipment, recharge their cellphones, and preserve medicines that require refrigeration, such as insulin.

This grant also contemplates monitoring tasks, including equipment efficiency, load analysis, and economic impact. This will help ensure the optimum operation of the 17 existing solar installations in Fire Stations across the island, and 15 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).

The project, which has been completed, has an educational component in place, led by the organization Bosque Modelo, with the purpose of providing learning tools to 50 women in the community to achieve certifications as apprentice electricians with the potential of being hired for the installation and maintenance of these solar energy equipment.

The training will allow this group of women to insert themselves into the solar energy system installation tasks, making way for a work experience in an industry with potential development.

“The access to solar energy to achieve resilient communities is one of the most important projects for our organization in addition to supporting the work of first responders during an emergency,” said Ivonne Rodríguez-Wiewall, executive advisor for Direct Relief Puerto Rico.

“So far, we’ve finished the installation of solar energy systems in the fires stations of Cataño and Guánica. Also, we continue to energize health clinics all throughout Puerto Rico. The integration of the organization Bosque Modelo in the education of our women to become part of this project is a great step, and we’re hopeful that it will be replicated in other municipalities in the island, so more women can be trained as apprentice electricians,” she said.

Meanwhile, Hunter Johansson, founder, and executive director of Solar Responders, explained the importance of providing first responders with the necessary resources to help their communities.

“Solar Responders is grateful to partner with Direct Relief to provide renewable, reliable power to the Guánica fire station. This community-based investment and partnership will help to ensure the health and safety of residents in Guánica when a natural disaster occurs,” he said.

Direct Relief and AbbVie continue to subsidize projects that solidify the work of first responders and provide communities with the resources needed to face emergencies and natural disasters.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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