Festivities mark inauguration of solar systems and new road into mountain village near Jalpa
By Ben Zion Ptashnik
Friday, February 7 was a day of celebration for the families of a remote mountain village called Pedregudo. On that day municipal officials came to this village, located on the edge of San Miguel Municipality in the mountains above Jalpa, to enjoy music and a meal, and celebrate with the community the completion of a new road into the village. And they also celebrated the first time electricity was available to the residents of this isolated location, thanks to photovoltaic solar panels installed at each home, courtesy of the San Miguel Municipality and the Green Fund (Fundo Verde).
The Green Fund is a special endowment of the San Miguel Environment and Ecology Department. The Fund is focused on ecological and natural resources conservation projects. This winter 17 families received subsidized solar panels, plus heavy-duty deep-cycle solar batteries to store energy for night-time use. The solar installation in each house consists of three large state-of-the-art solar panels that can produce up to 4,000 watts of energy on a clear day. These PV systems are capable of supporting, for each household, as many as eight energy-saving light bulbs, a medium-sized refrigerator, small kitchen appliances like blenders, a radio, and a laptop computer.
Many families in these isolated communities are quite far from CFE transmission lines, and the CFE could not bring power to their villages. Or some families could not afford the poles, power lines and transformers to their remote residences. But thanks to the mayor, and the city council, and the hard work of the Ecology Department, many of these families were able to celebrate the Christmas holidays with electric lights for the first time in generations.
Director of Environment and Ecology Victor Manuel Velazquez was on hand to celebrate the Pedregudo inauguration, as was the Municipal Treasurer Jaime Araiza Cyril, who was representing Municipal President Mauricio Trejo. Ecology Director Velazquez stated that as many as 70 more families in remote outlying villages such as Corral de Piedras, Las Palmas, and Cañada de la Virgin could be eligible for installations in the near future. Ecología is targeting 20 families for installation this spring.
Pedregudo village was also celebrating the inauguration of the first road to be built to this remote community, linking its small cluster of mountain dwellers for the first time to civilization; until this past month this community has only been accessible by foot, burro or all-terrain four-wheel vehicles. The Director of Public Works, Ing. Rodrigo Maldonado, was a very popular celebrity at the party, accepting thanks from the community for the good work of his department and on behalf of the City Council and President Trejo. Also at the inauguration was Director of Civil Protection Jose Philipe Aquado, and Director of Social and Human Resource Jose Martin Salgado, whose department had installed composting toilets for the families of this village; the village is so remote that it still has no public water supply.
Ben Ptashnik is former State Senator of Vermont, and an organic farmer. He has been a 10-year resident of San Miguel de Allende. He founded the company Solar San Miguel International, which designed and installed the 17 systems in the Jalpa area communities.