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December 6, 2018 (Washington, D.C.) – Rural LISC is thrilled to announce its support of inverSOL, a new company making solar-powered generators in Puerto Rico to combat power loss following natural disasters, like Hurricane Maria which slammed the island last year.
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria inflicted an estimated $94 billion in damage in Puerto Rico, including the destruction of the island’s power grid and severely limiting access to food, shelter and fuel. The rural communities of Puerto Rico were especially affected, with many residents only now seeing power restored – more than a year later.
“Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, especially the rural parts of the island,” said LISC Vice President and Rural LISC Director Suzanne Anarde. “These areas are especially isolated given Puerto Rico’s infrastructure challenges. inverSOL’s solar-powered generators will have a tremendous impact on resiliency, giving residents a safer, more affordable power alternative during post-disaster recovery. We are especially pleased with the combined benefit of supporting resiliency, small business development and job creation.”
Entrepreneur David Rodriguez founded inverSOL, a subsidiary of Council Rock Enterprises LLC, after visiting family in Puerto Rico after the storm and seeing first-hand the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. He was especially disturbed by the number of residents he saw who were without power weeks after the hurricane. Even now, 14+ months later, when the majority of island residents have finally had their power restored, power continues to be an issue with frequently occurring outages. Many residents depend on gasoline-fueled generators during these times, generators that are expensive, dangerous and not intended for long-term use.
In response to this situation, Council Rock and inverSOL developed an affordable, small scale, portable solar-powered generator as an alternative to gas-powered generators that delivers a safe and environmentally-friendly power solution. inverSOL is producing the generators in Caguas, Puerto Rico, creating approximately 40 local jobs.
Things moved very quickly for inverSOL once David Rodriguez made the decision to open a factory in Puerto Rico. Finding a location, building a team and securing all the materials were critical, as was making the right connections on the ground. Rural LISC’s community-based partner PathStone, that has several offices throughout the island, became that connector and joint partner with Rural LISC in this investment. Through its small business lending affiliate Enterprise Center, PathStone joined with Rural LISC to provide a combined $500,000 loan capital to inverSOL LLC.
“It would have been difficult for us to do this without that support. The kinds of inventory we needed to get down here, we couldn’t do in parts of ones or twos; that defeats the financial model. We needed to buy in larger quantities. We needed that financial support,” Rodriguez explained. But that’s not all, “the kind of support we have been getting … it’s about making connections, particularly with Pathstone. Pathstone is who introduced us to LISC. I just see that as an ongoing thing that we can build on. It’s critical. Without that, it would have been almost impossible to get this off the ground.”
InverSOL has developed three initial generator models providing different amounts of power at different price points. Each model can be upgraded with additional batteries and solar panels for increased power. The generators are made of military-grade waterproof cases that give the units a rugged, weather proof enclosure that is needed for long term use. The units will assist households temporarily without power to run basic necessities such as refrigerators, fans, and laptops.
Begun in 1969, PathStone is a private, not-for-profit community development and human service organization serving Indiana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Virginia, and Vermont. PathStone builds family and individual self-sufficiency by strengthening farmworker, rural and urban communities through community development programs and advocacy. It delivers quality career and employment services that enhance the skills, performance and potential of individuals. It provides a range of education and health services designed to promote and enhance lifelong learning, healthy living and employability. And it promotes access to personal counseling and financial resources designed to stabilize living environments and provide the foundation for economic security. PathStone believes that a combination of planning, vision, multi-sector stakeholder input, strategically targeted public and private resources and persistence must all be combined if success is to be realized. The organization has recently adopted environmental standards for all of its programs.
ABOUT RURAL LISC
Launched in 1995, Rural LISC is the rural component of the largest community development support organization in the country, called LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation). For 23 years, Rural LISC has partnered with rural communities, helping to forge innovative solutions that lead to prosperity and opportunity. Rural LISC provides a wide range of services, including financial support, training, technical assistance and information to help rural community developers address the problems rural communities face. This assistance comes in the form of loans and grants, national policy support and technical and management assistance. Since 1995, Rural LISC’s investments in rural America have totaled $1.22 billion in grants, equity and low-cost loan funds. Rural LISC has leveraged this investment resulting in $3.2 billion from public and private sources, to produce 35,473 affordable homes and apartments, create 4.2 million square feet of commercial and community space, assist 680 businesses, create 11,000 jobs and support 20 early childhood centers. By generating resources and investing in the grassroots efforts of its 86 partner community-based organizations, Rural LISC is committed to making rural communities good places to live, work, do business and raise children. Learn more at www.lisc.org/rural.