altE Opens Puerto Rican Warehouse to Aid in Electric Grid Crisis
altE announced this week it is now warehousing solar and renewable energy equipment locally in Puerto Rico to help with the ongoing effort to restore power to the island. By operating a warehouse facility in Puerto Rico, altE, the longstanding solar equipment distributor, is reducing the time and effort it takes to get solar equipment in the hands of island residents and solar installers alike. The warehouse facility on the island allows altE to handle the shipping logistics and customs paperwork—exponentially increasing the speed of solar equipment delivery.
It’s well documented many on Puerto Rico are still without power since Hurricane Maria devastated the island on September 20, 2017. Nearly three months after the storm, in December of 2017, it was estimated that over half of the island was still without power. And the latest news from the governor of Puerto Rico on the privatization of the U.S. territory's public power company has many residents on the island of 3-plus million people on edge. Because of the uncertainty around the future of the electric grid on Puerto Rico, many Puerto Ricans are taking it upon themselves to generate their own power by installing off-grid and grid-tied solar systems with battery backup.
In the aftermath of Maria, altE began hearing from island residents looking to add battery backup to their existing grid-tied solar systems that by and large survived the storm. A grid-tied solar system is one that powers a residence or facility with the power it makes from the sun and then feeds any remaining power back to the grid. The problem many found is grid-tie systems (which make up the majority of the systems on Puerto Rico) need the grid to be working in order to produce electricity for the home. Grid-tied solar systems are required to shut down when the grid goes down in order to protect the line workers working on the lines. Generally, grid-tied systems do not have any kind of energy storage capabilities—energy storage is typically accomplished with a solar deep cycle battery. Thus leaving those residents with a means to produce power, but with no means store power and then use it.
“Immediately after Maria we started getting calls about shipping battery backup for solar systems to the island,” said Sascha Deri, CEO of altE. “But it was painful to see our customers wait so long as shipments were delayed before arriving to port due to the backlogs created by natural disaster. So it just made sense for us to start warehousing equipment on the island to streamline the process for locals. Our facility in Puerto Rico reduced delivery times of solar components to island residents from weeks to days or even hours.”
The altE Store removed the difficulties of adding battery backup to an existing solar system—known in the solar industry as AC Coupling—by assembling pre-packaged solar battery backup kits with all the equipment needed. The kits are shipped to the altE facility in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, outside San Juan, for either pick up in person, or shipping anywhere on island. In addition, altE is stocking solar deep cycle batteries that work seamlessly with the pre-packaged battery backup kits at the Puerto Rican facility.
“We’ve been doing business with Puerto Rican solar installers and residents for nearly two decades,” Deri said this week. “The stories we are hearing from our long time partners on the island are heartbreaking and frustrating. We’re just glad we can do our part to help Puerto Ricans get back on their feet. Puerto Rico has a real opportunity to be a model for the rest of the US by embracing clean, distributed, renewable power from wind and solar.”