Municipal buildings, public service centers and some 60 families in the mountain town of Aibonito are investing more than $420,000 to develop “green” energy projects to reduce their energy costs and their dependence on fossil fuels, Puerto Rico Energy Affairs Administration Executive Director Luis Bernal said Thursday.
Through American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding, 61 households have been able to switch out energy-guzzling equipment, such as older air conditioning units, refrigerators, and light bulbs for energy efficient units, he said. The changes are helping families pay an average of 40 percent less in electricity bills, Bernal said.
“Today, we see families using the sun to heat their water, families who own high energy-efficiency appliances and [are able to] light their homes efficiently,” he said. “Thanks to federal and state funds allocated to green energy, Puerto Rico is moving firmly toward an energy era, while supporting and promoting a local green economy.”
During his visit to Aibonito, Bernal toured some of the retrofitted homes with town Mayor Willie Alicea. Together, they visited the home of Luis Cartagena, who showed them an electricity bill reflecting a 50 percent savings as a result of the changes made.
“I went from paying around $140 monthly to paying between $65 and $70 after replacing my old water heater with a solar water heater, the refrigerator with an Energy Star-labeled unit and replacing the old air conditioning units with high efficiency ones. I’m really happy,” said Cartagena.
Of the $420,000 investment, $160,000 went to municipal energy projects at the Aibonito City Hall, the library, the Municipal Revenue Collections Center building and the Department of Public Works. By adopting solar energy, retrofitting lighting systems, installing motion sensors and replacing inefficient air conditioning units, Aibonito will shave off about $30,000 from its annual energy costs, Alicea said.
“We’re deeply grateful for the opportunity to improve our public services in Aibonito. We have more than 60 families that are reaping the benefits of this great initiative,” he said. “We’ll continue seeking and providing opportunities to other families, so our municipality can benefit of energy conservation mechanisms that enhance their quality of life.”