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MAYAGÜEZ, Puerto Rico, 1 June 2022 – The Hogar Albergue para Niños Jesús de Nazaret in Mayagüez (Hogar), a temporary shelter for abused children that has been operating in Puerto Rico for 27 years, has a new solar energy system that provides electricity in the event of power outages and reduces energy costs. The system ensures the continuity of the services the shelter provides to the children even when natural disasters strike the Island. The savings expected from the operation of the solar system will enable the non-profit organization to diversify and optimize its services for the children.
The installation of the system was made possible thanks to the ingenuity and selfless efforts of a large group of people, entities, and companies that contributed their expertise, time, and money. These include organizations such as Engineers without Borders (EWB), Enactus (University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus), the Puerto Rico Relief Fund, and the Couillard Solar Foundation, as well as engineering students from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) mentored by Alberto Cordero, PE. Additionally, Blue Planet Energy, AZ Engineering, and Renewable Solutions Engineering were among the private companies that contributed to making the system a reality. Former Board of Directors president, Professor Carlos Velázquez Figueroa acted as liaison and coordinator of the students and professionals that were involved in the design and installation of the system.
Professor James Tinjum from the University of Wisconsin, who initiated the project, explained that the idea to provide an alternate source of energy to the Hogar was born after Hurricane Maria struck the island. “We wanted to go beyond providing supplies and assist with a sustainable project that would bring wellbeing and safety to the Hogar’s children for many years, and what would be better than the installation of a solar energy system,” said Tinjum.
The system has the most modern technology available. It consists of 96 solar panels, each with a power output capacity of 340 watts, and four battery banks with a total of 64 kilowatt-hours of power capacity. These batteries store the energy to power the Hogar at night or on cloudy days. The brain of the system consists of four inverters that convert the energy from the solar panels and batteries into energy for the Hogar. The system also has transfer switches that connect to the electrical grid to optimize the use of the solar energy and engage other energy sources, as needed to satisfy the demand.
Students from the University of Wisconsin-Madison were actively involved in all aspects of the project, including fundraising and system design. According to Claire Mitchell, an engineering student and project leader, participation in this project enabled the students to increase their engineering and disaster response expertise. “We came to provide our technical skills, and we left with a great sense of joy for having created a more secure future for the children”, affirmed Mitchell.
Alberto Cordero, an experienced engineer from Madison, Wisconsin, and mentor of the students involved in the project, said he was honored to have been part of this project as it “aligns with EWB’s mission of building a better world”. The organization’s contribution focused on the design of the system, supervision of the installation, and the search for sponsors to fund the equipment and related expenses.
Jesús R. Morales Cordero, current president of the Hogar’s Board of Directors, expresses his gratitude to all the volunteers, sponsors, and suppliers who collaborated on the project. “The initiative and collaborative effort of this generous group of people, organizations, and companies will allow us to have a safe and resilient home for years to come for the benefit of the children who live here.”
About the Hogar
The Hogar is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1995. Its mission is to serve as a temporary safe home for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse. Since its inception, the Hogar has cared for more than 700 children in Puerto Rico. To learn more about the history of the organization and the services provided to the children, visit www.hogarjesusdenazaret.org.
PRESS AND MEDIA CONTACTS
Jesús R. Morales – President, Board of Directors
Maritza Morales – Volunteer Chair, Communications Committee
THE CHILDREN, STAFF AND BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE HOGAR EXTEND THEIR SINCERE THANKS to the Main Sponsors and Collaborators of the Solar Energy Project!