More than two years after Hurricane Maria devastated the island of Puerto Rico, recovery efforts are still underway.
Last month, a partnership of state government and nonprofits announced the launch of a multimillion-dollar program to provide business assistance and workforce development for the island’s solar industry.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has teamed up with the Solar Foundation, and PathStone Corporation Inc. to offer the Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, Workforce and Small Business Development Program.
The $4.5 million project will train and place workers in solar-plus-storage and construction. It is also receiving support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA).
Proponents of the program say it will increase economic resiliency in Puerto Rico by helping island businesses increase operating efficiencies and enabling them to participate fully in major post-hurricane reconstruction efforts.
The program has three fundamental components.
The “Solar Accelerator” will help solar companies on the island improve financing, expand the workforce pipeline, disseminate information on consumer protection and develop two solar and storage microgrid demonstration pilots.
The technical assistance component is intended to raise the capacity of locally owned and operated businesses to expand their role in the rebuilding the island’s economy with a focus on resiliency and job creation.
The workforce development component will screen, train and place workers in full-time employment within industries that are primarily engaged in the production, sales and installation of solar energy productions and construction.
NYSERDA is providing $30,000 in cost share for seven qualified instructors from the State University of New York and City University of New York to provide training in Puerto Rico. New York state has taken a leading role in the post-hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
The EDA, a bureau of the U.S. Department of Commerce with the mission to foster job creation and attract private investment to economically distressed areas, provided $3.8 million for the program.