These Pro Athletes Raising Money To Bring Solar Power To Puerto Rico

Winter Olympian Apolo Ohno and soccer players David Villa and Kaká are helping to fund a new push for renewables as the

“They can come in and literally within six days they had the pumps turned back on for the freshwater supply for the entire island of Vieques.” [Photo: courtesy Viktre]

Four months after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, around 450,000 people still lack power, and the local electric utility–which is on track to run out of money by mid-February without a massive loan–is still struggling to rebuild the grid. A local wind farm has been ready to run since October, but the utility hasn’t let it power up. The same is true of a large solar farm. But smaller solar microgrids, relying on batteries rather than the grid, have been able to quickly provide power to critical locations including hospitals, schools, community centers, a water pumping station, and remote mountain communities.

These projects have been donated by companies like Tesla and Sonnen. To scale up to meet demand, though, more funding is needed. A group of pro athletes is hoping to rally fans to raise that money–and if the fundraising goes well enough, the money can also help with a longer-term rebuilding of the island’s electricity system.