After witnessing hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico, local company gives gift of power

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Inergy Solar employee uses solar generator to provide power for hurricane victim in Puerto Rico | Courtesy photo

POCATELLO – When Sean Luangrath and his colleague with Inergy Solar arrived in Puerto Rico four months ago, what they saw was shocking.

Luangrath and his team were there to observe the aftermath of the hurricane that hit the island last September.

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“There was a lot of solar generator orders on our website from Puerto Rico,” says Luangrath, who is the Inergy Solar CEO. “The founder of our company also has a business in Puerto Rico.”

Luangrath, who saw the entire island, says the devastation was much worse than what was reported through the mainstream media.

He says he met a lady in Puerto Rico whose husband was on a breathing machine prior to the hurricane. After the hurricane hit, the lack of power prevented him from being able to use the breathing machine, and he died.

“She was still grieving the passing of her husband,” he says. “Had she had access to our solar generator, her husband would have lived. We rely on power for so many things, like refrigeration, cooling, heating and life-saving and life-sustaining medical devices.”

What we take for granted, Luangrath says, is now a life-or-death matter for the people of Puerto Rico.

“Without access to power, a lot of people are suffering. We want to alleviate that as much as possible,” says Luangrath.

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The Kodiak solution

Since 2014, Inergy Solar in Pocatello has been working to provide the world with affordable, renewable power. A product called the Kodiak was its solution.

The Kodiak is a portable solar-powered generator kit that Luangrath says is capable of providing up to 35 hours of power for essential appliances and devices during an emergency or natural disaster. The 20-pound battery can store 1,100 watt hours, or 1.1 kilowatt hours, of energy captured from the sun using solar panels. It can also be charged by plugging it in to an outlet.

Through July 22, Inergy Solar is donating a solar-powered generator kit to a family in Puerto Rico for each kit purchased through the Empower Puerto Rico Program.

“During these two weeks or so, we have stopped our business to actively focus on promoting this program so we can actually help in Puerto Rico,” Luangrath says. “We’re actually losing profits, but we choose to donate it to this cause.”

The cost of the kits varies, depending on the package size. A bronze package includes one solar panel and costs about $2,100. The silver package includes three solar panels and costs around $2,500 and the gold package comes with five solar panels for $2,900. You can also buy the kit without solar panels for around $1,900.

Courtesy photo

Though it’s a purchase that comes with an upfront hefty price tag, Jared Grover, Inergy Solar’s VP of sales and marketing, says the savings on your electric bill makes this a product that sells itself.

As of last Tuesday, more than a dozen kits had already been purchased. The company’s goal is to sell 200.

The kits that are donated to needy people in Puerto Rico will be donated in a local customer’s name. Customers will then receive a photo and information about the family they have helped.

Grover tells this program extends to people in Haiti as well.

A history of humanitarian aid

Several years ago, the company donated solar generators to people in Nepal impacted by an earthquake. They have also donated systems to orphanages in Africa.

“Electricity is the No. 1 indicator of progress. Without power, there is no progress. So this effort to provide affordable, renewable energy is something we take seriously,” Grover says.

An employee with Big Dog Solar first started developing this product in 2012. Two years later, he branched off on his own to create Inergy Solar. Luangrath says the Kodiak is a great introduction to solar power without having to purchase a $20,000 solar system.

The customers who buy these kits, Luangrath says, are people with small homes that require minimal power, people who RV or camp a lot, and emergency preparedness enthusiasts.

“From the beginning, this company has been a social enterprise,” says Grover. We believe in making money but we also want to do good. That’s the mission of our company. We can only do it with the help of our customers and the community.”

If you’re interested in buying the Kodiak, stop by Inergy Solar’s store at 880 N. Fifth Ave. in Pocatello. It is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also visit its website.

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