A nursing home in Puerto Rico is now powered by solar panels, thanks to 15 students from Queensbury and South Glens Falls.
The Adirondack Solar Alliance traveled to Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, over April break to help install solar panels on a nursing home to provide affordable and independent energy to the elderly residents.
The group of students teamed up with Let’s Share the Sun, a nonprofit organization that has been bringing solar power to Haiti, Honduras and Puerto Rico since 2010.
The nursing home Hogar Cabecitas de Oro hosts 16 elderly residents through the Puerto Rico Department of Family system. It provides 24-hour nursing and therapy services and operates a community volunteer program and has a refuge open to all in times of emergency and natural disaster, according to the Let’s Share the Sun website. Nursing homes in the mountain-side town experience frequent power outages.
The students raised $40,000 by presenting their plan to local businesses, and used the money to purchase the solar panels, which they helped install over spring break. They paid for their own travel expenses.
“We were able to also install panels on two residential homes as well, because we raised extra money,” said Queensbury junior Bryce Jorgensen, whose father helped organize the project.
The group was supposed to install the panels over three days, but the students did the work in only five hours.
“They said it was the fastest it’s ever been done,” Bryce said.
The students also received a tour of Adjuntas and visited Casa Pueblo, a community-based organization that focuses on sustainable development of the region. They also visited an orphanage.
Visiting the nursing home had a great impact on Queensbury junior Alex Coombes.
“Being able to be down there and seeing the people in the nursing home was when it really hit what we were actually doing for the community,” Alex said. “You could see people in need of support systems and see how the reliable energy we were giving them would actually benefit them.”
The solar array and battery backup will cut costs, eliminate outages and power the nursing home and refuge during extended outages.
“They mentioned at the nursing home that they were paying $1,000 a month for electricity,” Bryce said, “so they are saving a ton of money now that they have solar panels.”