The situation post-Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is horrible and nearly unlivable. The Big Island is expected to be without electricity for months. People are waiting in lines all day for water, food, and other necessities, including filling up small, individual gas containers for fueling transportation and additional needs. Furthermore, the lack of power means that people requiring life-saving and -sustaining medication that must be refrigerated are especially vulnerable to the lack of power on the Island. But we have hope. Prior to Hurricanes Irma and Maria, members of the Jobos Bay Eco-Development Initiative (Iniciativa de Ecodesarrollo de Bahia de Jobos) were partnering with professors from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez and from the US diaspora to create the first community-organized and -implemented solar community in all of Puerto Rico. The urgency for this project has never been greater. In addition to this project, funds for LED solar-powered lightbulbs
are necessary to literally shed light on the disaster, so that recovery efforts can continue and accelerate amidst this still unfolding and worsening crisis. Your donations directly go toward paying for solar power infrastructure, which will enable much-needed refrigeration of medicines, offer electricity for daily necessities, and much more.
We, Boricuas/Puerto Ricans in the US diaspora and in the Caribbean, are asking for your help!
To contextualize the precarious situation communities in Salinas and throughout the southeast find themselves in, we must be cognizant that this region has been known in Puerto Rico as the “hunger route.” In Salinas, 60.6% of the population lives in poverty with a median household income of $15,510. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 17 percent of people in the region self-identified as black, a percentage well above the 12.4 national average. The low-income communities in the Jobos Bay, located between Salinas and Guayama, have long sufferedfrom the pollution generated by two electricity-generating power plants as well as other industries located in their communities. These communities consume less of the energy that is produced in their backyards because they can’t afford the electricity bills, and yet they pay a high price with their health and the health of their environments. They are the most affected, and as we are witnessing in the aftermath of Hurricane María, the last to receive aid when they need it most.
Because these are frontline communities, they have been at the forefront of resisting injustice and devising solutions to the environmental problems that affect them. For instance, South Against Pollution, Comité Diálogo Ambiental, and IDEBAJO were at the forefront of the fight against the government-private industry plan to build a 700-million dollar AES coal-power plant on a wetland adjacent to the Jobos Bay dating back to 1998. Similarly, Comité Diálogo Ambientalhas been at the forefront of the fight against the irresponsible handling and disposal of the toxic coal-ash produced at AES, as well as trying to stop the Aguirre Offshore Gasport Project, a subsea liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline proposed in the Jobos Bay. The group has legally challenged smaller-scale threats to the health of coastal environments, such as mangrove forests deforestation for urban development. Looking for solutions and alternatives to dirty energy, IDEBAJO has been trying to bring the solar project Coquí Solarto fruition for nearly a decade. They work with precious few resources and rely on volunteer work in their struggle to safeguard their environment and to provide a healthier life for current and future generations.
Solar Energy in PR
Op-ed from Community Member Ruth "Tata" Santiago
Community Control and Collective Agency
PR Fossil Fuel Reliance and Contamination
Connections Between Debt and Energy Crises in PR
Energy History in Puerto Rico