University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and casa Pueblo
Background/Question/Methods Climate change imposes many stressors on the Caribbean islands. Electric systems that are based on centralized generation, powered by fossil fuels, and dependent on transmission and distribution perform poorly during natural hazards. Puerto Rico is 98% dependent on centralized energy generation with fossil fuels that are imported from elsewhere. This created a landscape of total dependence on transmission and electrical distribution lines in a challenging topography dominated by very steep features. Casa Pueblo is a community-based organization in the central mountains of Puerto Rico originally founded to protect the region and its critical watersheds from an open-pit mining proposal and later from a massive gas pipeline. ‘Adjuntas Pueblo Solar’ is a collaborative effort between Casa Pueblo and the Honnold Foundation to build the first generation of storage and distribution for a solar energy grid that will enable social re-investment and community transformation in Adjuntas. The microgrid and the solar energy it generates will be owned and distributed by the community itself via the non-profit organization Asociación Comunitaria de Energía Solar Adjunteña (ACESA). The collaboration with the Honnold Foundation and ACESA is an example of a functioning social-communitarian model for energy transformation where outside resources are managed to catalyze inside-out processes.
Results/Conclusions Each step toward energy self-sufficiency is also a step forward to decolonize Puerto Rico and its current model of energy dependency. This country could become a climate resilience hub, embracing the renewable endogenous resources that abound in our Island and building robust micro-grids, hybrid systems and intelligent networks that can increase our capacities for self-determination. Although government plans have kept fossil fuels as the primary energy source, bottom-up processes with clear actions have redefined and amplified alternative energy sources. For Casa Pueblo, solar power is in fact the main energy source while the centralized system has become the alternative source.