Charged Up in Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico’s Jobos Bay Reserve has become the Island’s only government facility to be fully prepared to have electricity in the event of a blackout.
After Hurricane Maria hit in 2017, the Jobos Bay Reserve spent more than three months without electricity. Although the Reserve had installed solar modules on the dormitory roof just months before with a grant from NOAA’s NERRS Procurement Acquisition and Construction (PAC) funds, operation of the photovoltaic system was dependent on the badly damaged energy grid.
Office work ground to a halt and the team dedicated most of their time clearing access to the Reserve and cleaning the trails. Eventually power returned, but even today many areas of the island still experience frequent blackouts.
In 2020, the Reserve took a big step toward stability and sustainability by installing lithium batteries to serve as a backup for the next time the grid goes down. The batteries were purchased through a grant from NOAA’s Disaster Relief Funds.
“These batteries not only improve our working environment, they help us build community relationships,” says Aitza Pabón-Valentín, the manager of the Reserve. “We will have energy when the electricity drops, which is encouraging for others considering solar energy as an option. Also, this allows us to support those who might need to refrigerate medicines or need access to energy for medical reasons.”
“This is an excellent example of how Reserves strive to advance recovery from disasters,” says Rebecca Roth, NERRA’s executive director. “After Hurricane Maria hit, the Reserve’s facility supported the community as best it could. Now new investments make Jobos Bay, along with other Reserves, self-sustaining, yielding so many direct and indirect dividends for coastal communities.”
Solar power and carbon mitigation will continue to be an important driver for development of the Reserve’s infrastructure.
“We are planning a new training and education Center,” says Pabón-Valentín, “and the blueprints will call for a photovoltaic system, backup batteries and a parking with charger system for electric cars.”
Pre-Covid event at the visitor center, where local community members often gather.