LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Arensis, an international provider of distributed energy and portfolio company of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), today announced the initiation of its disaster relief plan, bringing off-grid energy systems to the victims of Hurricane Maria in remote areas of Puerto Rico. The initial Arensis biomass-to-energy power unit is being relocated from Lufthansa’s operations at the Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla to the City of Fajardo, Puerto Rico.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s catastrophic devastation, Arensis has reiterated their commitment to Puerto Rico, helping to reenergize the first non-contiguous Promise Zone designated region in the U.S. The initial unit, delivering a combined 50kW of electricity and 120kW of thermal energy, will immediately begin powering Fajardo’s Sports Complex, which is currently being used as a refugee shelter and distribution center. The company is also shipping a debris processor and will relocate staff to run the system and produce fuel on site using debris and woody biomass from the hurricane’s destruction. This will be the first non-diesel derived power solution for the region with the ability for the community to use their own debris materials as fuel to generate clean energy.
“We’ve all heard the reports that it will be many months before electricity is restored to Puerto Rico,” said Arensis CEO, Julien Uhlig. “Though the government is currently rewiring the central electrical grid and working hard to have 90% of the island powered by December of this year, we are glad to support the desperately needed relief now and feel continued building of smart and efficient microgrids is an important alternative to having only one source of energy on the island.”
Designated a Promise Zone, aimed at directing federal resources to high-poverty areas, the City of Fajardo has been without electricity for the past month. Arensis has partnered with the City of Fajardo and Puerto Rico’s Department of Economic Development and Commerce to not only deliver immediate relief but also develop an integrated industry solution to help create jobs and support the clean energy rebuilding effort.
Manuel Laboy Rivera, Secretary of the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DEDC), stated, “Our department is working to leverage all available resources and support more efficiently, therefore we encourage Arensis to deploy its technology as quickly as possible. Collaboration is key in this difficult, yet hopeful hour.”
Like most of Puerto Rico, Fajardo communities and neighborhoods were left cut off without communication, water, essential supplies and power from the monster hurricane. The Mayor of Fajardo, Aníbal Meléndez Rivera, grateful for the relief support, stated, “During this humanitarian crisis, our communities welcome all of the help we can possibly get. There has been some progress but the majority of the people are still without power and the flow of aid has been slow.”
Sitting in a conference room at LACI the day before Hurricane Maria powered through the Caribbean, Arensis’ Chief Legal and Business Development Officer, a native born Puerto Rican, sat quietly texting his family in Puerto Rico while a meeting with LACI executives was underway. Later that evening, he was on what would be the last flight into Puerto Rico before the Category 4 hurricane made a direct landfall on the island. Ironically, the earlier meeting was a discussion on assembling containerized power plants in downtown Los Angeles that could be shipped to all parts of the world in need of distributed energy.
“As Arensis is one of LACI’s portfolio companies, we are proud to see them respond to the urgent energy needs of the people of Puerto Rico and providing them a way to not rely on dirty, expensive diesel fuel that has to be shipped to the island,” said Matt Petersen, President and CEO of LACI. “We applaud Arensis, and other organizations leading similar efforts to deliver clean energy solutions needed now.” Petersen has led several major disaster recovery and green rebuilding efforts including relief in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and multiple grid-tied back-up solar systems after Superstorm Sandy. In addition, after the Haiti earthquake, he helped to raise funds and deliver containers of solar panels for multiple NGO projects which were distributed with President Clinton and provided directly to World Vision and Habitat for Humanity, among others. Petersen is currently helping to advise Arensis on how to best support Puerto Rico.
Arensis will donate an Entrade E4 Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system, providing 50kW of electricity and 120kW of thermal energy, for a period of at least six months, with a plan for 30 additional units delivering 1.5 MW of electricity and 3.6 MW of thermal energy capacity through partnerships and funding initiatives currently underway. Each unit fits inside a 20-foot shipping container. Arensis is focusing their disruptive technology on fostering a decentralized micro-grid energy revolution for Puerto Rico. The relief effort is part of a growing coalition of international companies that have the means and the will to help Puerto Rico and drive recovery through renewable energy, including Lufthansa Technik and Schneider Electric respectively helping with transport of Arensis units and providing contractors and integration equipment.