Blog Post

Newfound Hope for Disaster-Stricken Village

When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico in September 2017, the village of San Salvador, located in Caguas, was devastated. Hurricane Maria, ranked by NOAA as the costliest tropical cyclone to ever hit Puerto Rico, left San Salvador residents without power for 7 months due to severe damage to the centralized electrical grid. Everyday life in San Salvador came to a sudden halt, from simple daily chores like laundry to critical necessities like refrigerating medicine and communicating with loved ones.

Seeking an energy resiliency and security solution to protect against hurricane power losses in the future, the Board of Directors of the village relied upon experts from Energy Solutions Puerto Rico, Grassroots Solar and altE Store to design and install a solar plus SimpliPhi Power energy storage system at their community center. The system will serve up to 800 households and 3,100 village residents.

The solar plus storage installation consists of 4 SimpliPhi PHI 3.5 batteries providing 14 kWh of energy storage, one 8 kW OutBack Power Radian, and two Outback Power FLEXmax charge controllers. The Evergreen Solar panels were donated by Grassroots Solar, a Vermont-based solar installation company. The installation also comes with an OutBack Power MATE3, which will allow the village to easily monitor and control their energy use - either remotely or on site - which is critical, particularly in disaster response scenarios.

“The goal is to provide basic services to neighbors in an emergency situation, so that the community is more resilient after a hurricane or other eventuality and can recover faster," explained the president of the village Board of Directors, Leslie Ann Fonseca.

The next time a natural disaster strikes, this community will have reliable, safe, and long-lasting emergency backup power. San Salvador residents will be able to charge their phones and laptops, refrigerate food and medicine, power medical equipment, as well as wash their laundry. Additionally, they will be able to enjoy 24/7 access to electricity at this center throughout the year, as the system will be operating in off grid mode every day.

Commissioned just in time for the holidays, the solar+SimpliPhi storage system powered the center’s Christmas tree as a symbol of the community’s newfound hope and optimism about the future. Requiring no maintenance and backed by a 10,000 cycle/10-year warranty, the village can remain worry-free knowing that the system is reliable and long-lasting.

When it came to deciding which energy storage system to install at the center, Carlos Alberto Velazquez Lopez of Energy Solutions Puerto Rico explained that “a truly sustainable energy project should not create tremendous amounts of hazardous solid waste, as would have been the case if we had used lead acid batteries. The SimpliPhi solution is long-lasting and environmentally responsible.”

SimpliPhi’s non-toxic lithium ferrous phosphate battery chemistry is not hazardous, does not put residents or the community at risk and does not pose the threat of thermal runaway or fire, making them an ideal solution in hot climates such as Puerto Rico.

Next time a disaster strikes, the village’s solar plus storage-powered community center is ready to serve the residents of San Salvador!