With a total of $4.5 million committed, The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, The Solar Foundation, and PathStone Corporation are launching a Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, Workforce and Small Business Development Program, in order to increase the presence of solar for recovery and resiliency in the nation, following the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
The program is actually a three-pronged effort comprised of a Puerto Rican solar accelerator, business technical assistance and workforce development. The solar accelerator will work with Puerto Rican solar companies to improve financing and a workforce pipeline, with the expressed goal of developing two solar and storage microgrid demonstration pilots. The business technical assistance will raise the capacity of indigenously owned and operated businesses in hopes that these resources will have an expanded and leading role in the rebuilding of the Puerto Rican economy. The focuses of this aspect of the program are on resiliency and job creation. Finally, the workforce development branch will screen, train and place workers in full-time employment across the expanse of the solar industry, with focuses on sales and installation of solar energy productions and construction.
In addititon to funding the program, NYSERDA is providing $30,000 in cost share for seven qualified instructors from the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) to provide training in Puerto Rico. Additionally, NYSERDA will assist in coordinating the activity of the training providers over a 12-month period.
“Since Hurricane Maria, we have worked in partnership with local installers to bring solar and storage to critical locations in Puerto Rico,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. “We are proud to partner with NYSERDA and PathStone to lead this groundbreaking new program to help expand Puerto Rico’s solar industry and develop a highly qualified workforce.”
The majority of the project’s funding was provided by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce. EDA provided $3.8 million for the program which meets three of the EDA’s investment priorities: recovery and resiliency, workforce development and manufacturing and opportunity zones, which is a new designation for EDA.