Centro PASO & Solar Power
PASO's Need and Fiesta's Action
Centro PASO's Solar Journey
An excerpt from PASO's project proposal:
"The need for electricity was our main problem after the destruction of Hurricane Maria. This affected us greatly because we had a hard time offering service to the affected people as well as communicating. People came looking for refrigerators to store their medicines and we had no place to store them, nor could we store fresh food that they gave us. Due to the lack of water and electricity, we managed to get someone to donate an electricity generator. However, spending money on gasoline for this, and taking into account the little access there is to gasoline, our operations were very difficult to carry out. Still, our work continued without interruption, including on weekends, in whatever way possible.
At the moment we have gratefully received the donation of 20 solar panels, but we need the equipment and the necessary installation to complete the project and become a center for the use of renewable energy. Firstly, we need to save on electricity spending because we completely depend on donations to operate, and, in addition, the expenses are high. It is important to note that our organization has a staff that is 100% voluntary. Secondly, we need to be able to respond in times of community crisis, and it is very difficult to do so without electricity, as our power generation system in Puerto Rico is very fragile. Not only are we left without electricity due to atmospheric phenomena, but we often also find ourselves without electricity due to existing damages in the fragile electrical system of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority.
Independence in energy terms in organizations like ours is essential. The Board of Directors has defined this situation as our main need. The project will greatly impact the Aiboniteña community and neighboring towns"
Overview of Solar Project - Source: Verdificia Ingeniería Eléctrica
Size and Cost: PASO is partnered with Verdifica Ingenieria Electrica, who will install a 11 kW DC rated roof mounted solar photovoltaic system for $47,116. The system will consist of 18 Q Cells Duo 325w Panels, 2 Tesla Powerwall 2 Energy Storers, and 18 Enphase IQ7 Micro Inverters.
The cost of installing a direly needed solar power system is far larger than the scope of any project PASO has taken on previously. Even the cost of direct local aid is far less than the installation of this system. Centro PASO cannot afford to pursue direct fundraising efforts for this project, despite its level of priority, because it would leave the financially unable and unprepared for impending disasters. PASO has determined that pursuing grant funding for this project is the best avenue for their center. This was determined considering the small size of the center as well as the limited funds budget and funds for other projects that will directly impact the community. Funding for the upkeep and maintenance of PASO’s facilities and all of its programs is carefully and specifically allocated depending on indications of our smaller benefactors (ex. donations are generally for items such as the centers food bank, soup kitchen, medical supply, or sustainable agriculture classes). Any project the center wants to take on, they must either actively fundraise for themselves or recruit benefactors.
Fiesta4Hope, Inc. & Solar Grants
Since Fiesta4Hope's very first interactions with Centro PASO, it was clear that transitioning Centro PASO to a fully solar powered community center would be imperative for their continued effectiveness. This idea, which for so long had seemed a distant goal, came to fruition this summer.
PASO had expressed the difficulties they experienced during previous attempts to apply for Solar Grants. These included challenges presented by a language barrier and lack of stable internet connection. When PASO received word of the application to the Solar Moonshot Grant Program, Mary Miranda, the President of the Board of Directors, immediately forwarded it to Fiesta4Hope. PASO asked us to take on the task of seeking and applying to grants for their solar and sustainable agriculture projects.
With little background experience in grant writing, Morgan Miller and Olivia Curran from the Fiesta4Hope Outreach Team began filling out the Solar Moonshot Grant Application from Hammond Climate Solutions along with other grants they found online. The Solar Moonshot Grant would be granted by the Left Coast Fund and was entrusted to be managed by Hammond Climate Solutions. On Monday, July 6, 2020, we received word from Tara Hammond of Hammond Climate Solutions regarding their interest in learning more about Centro PASO. The application, and all correspondence with Hammond Climate Solutions, was communicated on behalf of Centro PASO by Fiesta4Hope Outreach and Executive Teams. We are pleased to say that thanks to the hard work of our team here at Fiesta, $25,000 from the Solar Moonshot Grant is being awarded to Centro PASO.
With the $25,000 from the Left Coast Fund and Hammond Climate Solutions, there was still $22,116 left to acquire if Fiesta4Hope were to succeed in helping PASO go solar. After a lot of communication with Tara Hammond on behalf of Margarita Centeno, the Director of PASO, she was able to refer PASO to a fellow philanthropist at the BQuest Foundation, who, after learning more about the center and their needs, granted the remaining amount needed to complete the project.
*On August 21, 2020, Centro PASO signed the contracts with BQuest and the Left Coast Fund, as well as with Verdifica Ingenieria Electrica.