"Casa Pueblo’s Energy Insurrection in Puerto Rico," by Arturo Massol-Deyá

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Location: Jordan Auditorium, Mendoza College of Business

In the town of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico, an award winning organization, Casa Pueblo, is leading an “energy insurrection, an uplifting, a revolution,” according to founder and director Alexis Massol González. Their goal is 50% energy generation at the point of consumption with solar panels and independent microgrids by 2027. Arturo Massol Deyá, son of Alexis and executive director, will tell the story of one town’s fight for energy independence.

September 20 marks the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Maria ripping across Puerto Rico and plunging the US territory into darkness. Isolated from the rest of the island by its aftermath, Casa Pueblo offered its solar powered headquarters as an oasis and was able to connect with the outside world to coordinate donations. They distributed solar powered lamps and installed solar refrigerators, along with equipment to power respiratory therapy and dialysis machines, a barbershop, restaurants, minimarkets, and a solar cinema. They were able to impact nutrition, health, entrainment, economic activation, and food security for community resiliency. Adjuntas’ energy landscape has been transformed and is aiming to become an alternative reference for Puerto Rico away from its almost absolute dependence on fossil fuels and subjugation to corruption.

Alexis Massol Gonzalez was the 2002 Islands and Island Nations Goldman Environmental Prize winner, awarded to “grassroots environmental heroes.” Casa Pueblo has a history of environmental success stories, beginning in the 1990s when it organized the movement that stopped gold mining operations in the Adjuntas area. In 2012, the organization disrupted plans to run a gas pipeline through environmentally sensitive areas. They offer educational programs and have helped establish several community-sponsored, protected forest areas.

About Arturo Massol-Deyá

Arturo Massol Deyá is the executive director of Casa Pueblo and professor of microbiology and ecology at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez. His research interests include tropical microbial ecology and ways to use natural methods to clean up contamination. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Puerto Rico and received his PhD from Michigan State University in 1994. Massol established the Tropical Microbial Ecology Lab at his home university.

To see the situation in Adjuntas in January and an interview with Arturo, watch this short PBS New Hour clip.

Seminar co-sponsored by the Center for Civic Innovation, Center for Social Concerns, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Environmental Change Initiative, Hesburgh Program in Public Service, Institute for Latino Studies, John J. Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development, Office of Digital Learning

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Originally published at energy.nd.edu.