The Light Switch for Puerto Rico is Now in Vermont

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Grassroots Solar, a Vermont solar energy company is working with electricians and residents in Puerto Rico to get them solar power and back-up battery storage, since 50% of Puerto Rico is still without power from the September 20 hurricane.

Right now, people are suffering.

A solar energy installation company from tiny Dorset, Vermont is turning on the power in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico. Bill Laberge, owner of Grassroots Solar, of Dorset recognized the potential for solar power in Puerto Rico, 50% of which is still has no electricity, and set about to help residents there.

The opportunity became clear when one of Laberge’s Vermont customers asked his help for her Puerto Rican relatives. Grassroots Solar responded quickly and manufactured a small, emergency power system which Bill’s customer carried down on a commercial airline. This kit allowed her aunt to power her critical medical device for the first time since the hurricane hit last September 20. Laberge recently traveled to the island to show his expanded line of emergency “Solar Now Kits” to local electricians and homeowners, and train electricians to install solar panels.

“Right now, people are suffering. They are having to run generators, costing them $440-$500 a month to put gas in these generators that they can only run 4 or 5 hours a day. There’s something that’s more sustainable—it’s putting up some solar panels and some batteries,” said Laberge in a recent profile on his efforts in Puerto Rico which aired on Boston’s WNBC affiliate WCVB channel 5.

During his journey to Puerto Rico to assess the level of interest in solar power (“So far 100% of the people want solar!” says Laberge), the Vermont entrepreneur trained a half dozen local electricians on installing larger kits. The smallest kit, which allows charging of communication devices, some lights and a little more, does not need an electrician to install. As the kits step up in size and are able to power more devices and appliances, an electrician is needed. Laberge said, “It is a tremendous opportunity to partner with the wonderful people of Puerto Rico, to help them help themselves, and get them using renewable energy so they can recover quickly from these weather catastrophes.”

Bill Laberge, founder of Grassroots Solar, is also on the Governor’s Council for Renewable Energy in Vermont. He is NAPCEP certified and is Vermont’s only dealer for SunPower solar panels and Sonnen Batteries. Grassroots Solar installs solar powered systems to operate homes and businesses in Vermont, New York state, and now, Puerto Rico. For more information on Grassroots Solar and to find out more about their “Energy Now Kits” visit or call 802-681-3579.

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Bill Laberge

Margaret Donovan
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