Ten months after Hurricane Maria, Adjuntas still loses power any time a heavy rain or wind pounds the rickety power lines feeding this town high in the central mountains of Puerto Rico.
That leaves its 20,000 people once again in the dark, without light, fresh water or air conditioning—except for a handful of homes and businesses glowing in the night thanks to solar energy.
The people of Adjuntas call those places “cucubanos,” an indigenous Puerto Rican firefly. They’re part of a small but growing movement to provide the U.S. territory with sustainable, renewable energy independent of the decrepit power grid.
A scattering of hardware stores, barbershops and corner stores across the island are embracing solar energy, trying to wean themselves off a state-owned power company that remains heavily dependent on imported petroleum. The numbers remain small—a few dozen or hundreds out of millions of power users—but power industry officials and environmentalists are closely watching this as a test of whether Puerto Rico can make a large-scale switch to renewable, off-grid energy.
- In July 24, 2018 , Julio Rosario, right, and his team instal a solar energy system in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. The nonprofit environmental group Casa Pueblo has installed solar systems at two hardware stores, one barber shop and several corner stores that activists hope will serve as a power oasis where people can charge their phones and store medications during a storm if needed.
- In July 24, 2018, a technician instals a solar energy system at a home in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. In upcoming months, some 30 homes will be fitted with the system. In upcoming months, some 30 homes also will be fitted with the system.
- In July 24, 2018, Sergio Vega, owner of the Olympia corner store poses for a photo at his business in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Vega’s shop is power by a solar energy system provided by the nonprofit environmental group Casa Pueblo.]
In July 24, 2018, barber Wilfredo Perez poses for a photo in front of his solar powered barber shop in Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. Perez says he can now open his barbershop 11 hours a day, six days a week thanks to the new system.
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