Sigora Haiti has restored power to all of its 8,000 customers in Môle-St-Nicolas and Jean Rabel, in northwest Haiti following Hurricane Irma, which traversed Haiti’s northern coast in the early hours of Friday, September 8th. Sigora customers experienced less than 10 hours of down time as the Category 5 Hurricane raged offshore and tropical storm winds pummeled the coast.
“We take hurricane preparedness very seriously – given where we are located, we have to” says Drew Leibowitz, vice president of operations. “It’s thanks to the pre-emptive action of our local teams that the grid didn’t sustain more extensive damage, and that’s what enabled us to get power back to our customers so quickly today.”
Due to high-winds, Sigora shut down all power generation at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time. Once the storm had passed, Sigora crews conducted field inspections and grid walks, verifying no damage was sustained by the grid infrastructure and clearing the system for re-energization around 7:40 a.m. Full power was restored to both towns by 11:55 a.m. local time.
Prior to the storm, Sigora teams pruned vegetation at risk of falling on the lines and reinforced all potentially unstable structures to limit the risk of flying debris. On Thursday, Sigora workers in Môle-St-Nicolas removed all the solar panels from its recently-completed 200kW solar array to protect it against storm wreckage; at the time Irma’s winds were reportedly reaching more than 185mph.
While the impact of the storm was less extreme than originally anticipated, powerful tropical-storm conditions during the night were severe. “We were scared. We didn’t know if today was going to come” reported a member of the community this morning.
Today, Sigora crews and equipment have been deployed to support clean-up and reconstruction efforts. A team has also been dispatched to Presqu’île – a remote vishing village across the bay from Môle – to inspect Sigora’s solar pico-grid. The 2.7KwH micro-grid provides each of the 51 households with 120V of electricity, enabling families to light their huts and charge their phones – an undertaking that previously required a three-hour journey to the closest town 5 miles away, and was far more expensive. Sigora staff will assess potential damage and repair any damage to the system.
“There is a lot of talk about resilience, but this is what it looks like in practice” says Drew.
About Sigora Haiti S.A.
Sigora Haiti started with a dream of electrifying a clinic on the island nation and has grown into a full-scale green utility project with a mission is to power and empower underserved communities with clean, reliable, and fairly priced electricity. Serving 8,000 customers in Môle-St-Nicolas, Jean Rabel, and Presqu’île, Sigora’s Northwest electrification project currently underway will expand the company’s existing grid network of 8,000 customers, and when complete will reach 136,000 people (27,000 accounts) and have a renewable energy capacity of 3.5MWp. The project deploys Sigora International’s proprietary prepaid metering and revenue management technology designed to enable utilities in frontier markets consistently and effectively collect revenue. Sigora Haiti S.A. is a legally incorporated for-profit socially conscious and environmentally responsible Haitian Corporation with offices in Môle-St-Nicolas, Jean Rabel, and Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. For more information visit: www.sigorahaiti.com
Natasha Skreslet, Director of Impact & Communications
[email protected] | +1 415 917 3319