How a Vt. company is working to help power up Puerto Rico

By  | 

WAITSFIELD, Vt. (WCAX) "There is still a big need there," Nancy Rhodes said.

Rhodes just returned from Puerto Rico. She works for Amurtel, an international volunteer agency helping to assess the damage to the island's energy grid.

"There was a need after the hurricane that devastated the island to bring some kind of power," Rhodes said.

And that's still true today. About one-third of Puerto Rico remains without power.

The volunteer group with ties to Vermont connected with Niles Behn, thinking his solar company Aegis Renewable could help. From his Waitsfield office, Behn worked with other solar companies to design mobile solar-powered systems to donate to Puerto Rico. The effort is called "Power on Puerto Rico."

"We knew that they desperately needed the means to communicate with the outside world," Behn said.

Showing off trailers that will be worked on and soon sent off to Puerto Rico, Behn says the 12-foot mobile energy hubs will have six solar panels when completed. They offer free access to electricity for people to charge things like their mobile devices. The trailers also offer a water purification system and are tamper-resistant.

"They have kind of one place to get all of those really critical needs," Behn explained.

Three units are already on their way to Puerto Rico and more are expected soon.

"This is seen as a longer-term solution for communities there," Rhodes said.

When Puerto Rico has the power back on 100 percent, the trailers will be ready to ship off to the next disaster zone.