Businesses and families in New York's outer boroughs are still reeling from the effects of Hurricane Sandy; many communities are without power and shop doors are closed. A coalition of energy companies calling itself "Solar Sandy" has contributed renewable electricity generators to assist areas hardest hit by the super storm.
I learned about the project today from Consolidated Solar's Christopher Mejia. Meija's e-mail came in response to an article we published about how Columbia University PHD students contributed a solar trailer to a church in Queen's Rockaway Islands, saving Thanksgiving for hundreds of people and furthering recovery efforts.
Solar Sandy has deployed six solar generators in the Sandy affected areas, with five currently operating in the Rockaways and one in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Each generator provides 10kw of power, and is located in community gathering areas where people are fed, can charge their electronics, and receive medical services.
The Solar Sandy project is being funded by HSBC and sustainability advocates the 11th Hour Project with additional support coming from New York's Energy Research and Development Authority. Solar One, SolarCity, and Consolidated Solar have provided the equipment. Equipment for the Thanksgiving event mentioned above originated from Solar Journey sponsors Ascent Solar, First Solar, and Outback Power Systems.
There are always unsung heroes during disasters - people who think beyond their own self-interests and selflessly help others. Many businesses were involved in this relief effort, and while their interests could be called into question, the results cannot be. Solar power generation has come through for hurricane victims - at least a little, and during disasters, a little can mean a lot.
The damage that Sandy wrought on the region raises the question of whether vulnerable communities and critical public facilities should be planned with microgrids to provide a longer term solution. Is solar power proving its worth?