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On Wednesday, August 2, the IREC Puerto Rico office met with the community of Castañer to begin development of an energy resilience plan, with the goal that the community can rapidly recover from the impacts of natural disasters. This initiative will be based on an existing microgrid that was developed by IREC and the local electric cooperative.

During the meeting, community representatives described the extreme challenges they faced after Hurricane Maria, when some parts of Castañer lacked electricity for six months or more. With more grid-disrupting weather events expected in the future, a resilience plan for Castañer will be indispensable.

One part of the plan will be to allow for faster restoration of services after a hurricane or other climate disaster. In addition, the community will be better prepared to request proposals that are currently available to carry out renewable energy projects.

Recognizing a historic opportunity in the investment of funds for disadvantaged communities under programs like the Department of Energy’s Puerto Rico Energy Resilience Fund and the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), IREC will also work with Castañer to request funds as a community to improve aspects of its energy resilience.  

The plan will be finalized within 16 months as part of a three-year project. When the planning process is complete, our partners at Slipstream Group, Inc. will design and implement a system using innovative technology to coordinate and maximize a solar photovoltaic system and microgrid to improve energy resilience.

Most importantly, the plan will support the needs and priorities of community leaders, residents, and businesses in Castañer. This plan is by and for the community.

This project is part of the RACER (Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience) program, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and includes 20 communities across the United States. IREC is working in partnership with Slipstream and other collaborators including Luma Energy, La Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña, ACE IOT Solutions, and Texas A&M University.

Contact us to learn more about the Castañer microgrid initiative or other IREC projects in Puerto Rico.