New York State joins partnership to help train solar workers in Puerto Rico

Published on December 16, 2019 by Dave Kovaleski

© Shutterstock

New York State leaders announced a program to provide business assistance and workforce development for Puerto Rican solar and construction companies.

The $4.5 million initiative – called Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, Workforce and Small Business Development Program – is being done through a partnership between the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), The Solar Foundation, and PathStone Corp.

The public-private partnership will help to train and place workers in solar-plus-storage and construction.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s steadfast leadership, New York has demonstrated an unwavering commitment helping families and businesses in Puerto Rico recover and rebuild from the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria,” NYSERDA President and CEO Alicia Barton said. “This collaborative program will equip Puerto Rican businesses and workers with the innovative training and tools necessary to build a more resilient Island that is prepared to face 21st-century climate challenges.”

This program is broken into three parts. One is Puerto Rican Solar Accelerator, which will work with Puerto Rican solar companies to improve financing, support the workforce pipeline, disseminate information on consumer protection, and develop two solar and storage microgrid demonstration pilots. Another is Business Technical Assistance, which will focus on raising the capacity of businesses to play an increasing role in rebuilding the economy with a focus on resiliency and job creation. The third is Workforce Development, which will focus on screening, training, and placing workers in full-time employment in the solar industry.

“Since Hurricane Maria, we have worked in partnership with local installers to bring solar and storage to critical locations in Puerto Rico,” Andrea Luecke, president and executive director at The Solar Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, said. “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.”

NYSERDA is providing $30,000 for seven instructors from the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) to provide training in Puerto Rico. Also, NYSERDA will assist in coordinating the activity of the training providers.

“At PathStone, we are extremely committed to maximizing opportunities for our clients. Thanks to joint efforts such as this, and after hurricane Maria, PathStone has managed to help hundreds of business owners and individuals in Puerto Rico to improve economic self-sufficiency and quality of life of individuals and communities through entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, financing access as well as workforce development activities,” Alex Castro, COO of PathStone, a New York-based nonprofit, said.