North America

Volvo Penta Powers Puerto Rico Through Hurricane Maria

Watch the RK Power story on YouTube.

In 2017, Hurricane Maria ravaged the northeast Caribbean.The unrelenting storm destroyed the island of Puerto Rico’s power grid, leaving 95% of its residents without electricity and more than half with no tap water.

“We live in the Caribbean, where, unfortunately, we are constantly exposed to the hurricane season,” said Rubén Aguilar, General Manager of Volvo Penta partner RK Power Generator, based in San Juan. “Hurricanes always strike this region, affecting us and our energy system.”

Beyond being a mecca for travelers who appreciate its pristine beaches and magnificent natural beauty, Aguilar says Puerto Rican locals take pride in the rich culture and strong sense of community on the island, and he feels fortunate that his business helps protect these residents during harsh weather emergencies.

When Hurricane Maria struck, RK Power, the only manufacturer of generators in the Caribbean, had 200 Volvo Penta-powered generators operating throughout Puerto Rico. One of Aguilar’s customers, the Aqueduct & Sewage Authority, owns about 10% of those generators. These machines provide backup power during outages, allowing sanitary water to keep flowing toward treatment plants and providing a safe drinking water supply.

Aqueduct & Sewage Authority Supervisor Jose Santiago said he worked 10- to 12-hour days after the storm to ensure the standby gensets powering his wastewater and lift pump were operational.

“Not having an available generator could put us at risk of a sanitary sewer overflow in the event of a power failure,” said Santiago. “In emergency situations we seek a reliable energy source. It’s been a really positive experience since we’ve had this generator.”

Santiago says he counts on portable generators powered by Volvo Penta D5 Tier 4 Final engines to provide more mobility, decreased diesel fuel and a team to offer expert support and service.

“Volvo Penta is one of those strategic partners that aid us with new solutions, new tendencies, new engineering, and allow us to have a high-quality team,” he said. “In this moment I feel a lot more prepared to face situations such as Hurricane Maria.”

Efficient and Powerful D5

Volvo Penta’s D5 Tier 4 Final industrial engine delivers maximum horsepower and torque at low speed, with minimal noise levels. Efficient injection and a robust engine design and technology contribute to excellent combustion performance and low fuel consumption.

Standby power engines from Volvo Penta give customers the assurance that they have a backup energy supply in place to maximize uptime and keep vital functions running. A complete line of power generation solutions from Volvo Penta is made with unmatched load support and the reliability our partners need in all sorts of uncertain climates.

Reliability When It Matters Most

While full-efficient Tier 4 final engines produce emissions low enough to qualify them to run constantly, RK Power customers in Puerto Rico like Aqueduct & Sewage Authority rely on generators fitted with these engines for predictable standby power, especially during weather disasters like Hurricane Maria.

Joel Contreras, Regional Sales Manager for Volvo Penta and account manager for RK Power, says that if the power were to go out at Jose Santiago’s substation, there would be a severe issue with wastewater accumulating and not being pumped out. This would cause a health emergency for many residents of Puerto Rico.

“For an application like this, when there are health concerns, you need a reliable engine that’s going to perform when it needs to, especially considering the weather,” said Contreras. “The power grid in Puerto Rico is not the greatest, so having an engine that’s reliable and that will start up and be able to perform as needed is very crucial for both RK Power and Volvo Penta.”

Global Support

When a Volvo Penta D5 engine needs routine maintenance, service points are easy to access, and optional equipment makes it possible to remote mount filters.

Volvo Penta offers customers the support of more than 900 dealers in more than 130 markets, as well as close cooperation with other Volvo Group companies. This translates into a global dealer network, characterized by local expertise and a world-class parts distribution network. The Volvo Penta Action Service 24/7 support is available in 28 different languages, meaning someone is always prepared to assist.

Aguliar says all the perks of a Volvo Penta and RK Power partnership make it easy to do business in a community that he loves to see flourish despite challenges.

“We feel deeply proud to be able to deliver these solutions, providing reliability to the customers,” said Aguliar, who now supplies 650 generators throughout Puerto Rico. “We trust that Volvo Penta as a strategic partner will continue to provide us with professional solutions to all the requirements of our progress.”

If you are interested in partnering with Volvo Penta in the power generation industry,
Connect with Volvo Penta of the Americas on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram for the latest company news and insights.