Effort Would Expand 2019 Program to Train and Place Workers in Solar-Plus-Storage, Construction, and Other Supportive Services

November 5, 2021

During a tour of Concilio de Salud Integral de Loiza in Loiza, Puerto Rico, Governor Kathy Hochul today announced New York State will work with community partners to expand ongoing solar deployment and workforce development support in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The State will provide new curriculum and permitting and financing expertise that will support the development of solar industries on the Islands. This effort further strengthens New York's long-standing commitment to support Puerto Rico's reconstruction and recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and helps reinforce New York State's commitment to ensuring a growing clean energy workforce pipeline and an equitable clean energy transition.

"Climate change is the crisis of our time, and it takes each and every one of us to pave the path for a cleaner, greener future," Governor Hochul said, "The number one obstacle we must overcome is our overreliance on fossil fuels and we must do so equitably so no community is left behind. New York and Puerto Rico have a historically close relationship and this partnership is an important step to creating more sustainable jobs and boosting green energy."

Today's announcement builds on the $4.5 million Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, Workforce and Small Business Development Program established in 2019 with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, Workforce and Small Business Development Program is a joint, public-private effort between the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, The Interstate Renewable Energy Council, and PathStone Corporation, Inc. to train and place workers in solar-plus-storage and construction, develop innovative solar financing options, and to provide technical assistance to solar businesses.

President and CEO of NYSERDA Doreen M. Harris said, "We are solidifying New York's commitment to further provide families, businesses, and workers in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with the tools they need to meet the challenges of climate change. Increased and ongoing partnerships are part of our responsibility to improve resiliency, especially in historically underserved communities, and we look forward to continuing to share best practices to allow their solar industry to flourish."

Under this expanded support, New York State would lend expertise in developing curriculum and permitting and financing solutions for disadvantaged communities and low- to moderate-income households. New York would continue to provide assistance in areas of solar acceleration, training, business support, and workforce development. In addition, the potential expansion of support would seek to provide an even broader regional benefit to the U.S. Virgin Islands in addition to Puerto Rico.

Since the program's inception, Puerto Rico has benefited from the:

  • development of community microgrid and storage systems in two communities;
  • establishment of webinars on microgrids and training on operations and maintenance best practices for communities in Puerto Rico;
  • completion of a Solar Jobs Projections Assessment and a Workforce Needs Assessment which resulted in collaboration with NYSERDA to develop workforce training programs;
  • development of employer-based apprenticeships and on-the-job training initiatives;
  • completion of a Solar Finance Assessment and workshops to educate the finance industry about solar industry technology, regulations and certifications;
  • creation of a standing committee on solar finance innovation to work on a market based approach to reduce barriers to solar financing for all sectors of Puerto Rico and;
  • development and delivery of business technical assistance to the solar industry.

IREC Program Director Carlos Alberto Velázquez said, "The fact that the State of New York has doubled down on its commitment to the Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator and the positive impact IREC's programs are having on the solar industry, is proof that our connection goes beyond the historical ties of migration. Puerto Rico and New York are also connected in wanting a clean energy future, sustainable economic development and resiliency for our peoples."

Pathstone President and Executive Director Javier E. Zapata-Rodríguez said, "PathStone, NYSERDA and IREC are deeply committed to the future of the solar industry in Puerto Rico and its stakeholders, including our small businesses and our most vulnerable communities and families who have suffered through consecutive major disasters including hurricane Maria, the earthquakes of early 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic. This joint collaboration will result in a stronger solar industry ecosystem that will in turn will translate in systemic long-term benefits for all Puerto Ricans, including a more robust solar workforce."

As part of the planned expansion of work in Puerto Rico, New York State would provide best practices and lessons learned from its highly successful workforce development and NY-Sun programs. In 2020, New York was ranked first in the nation in Community Solar installations and second for total installations. There are currently over 114,000 NY-Sun supported projects and nearly 6,000 in the NY-Sun pipeline, which are complemented by 73 New York State-supported utility-scale solar projects under development throughout the state. Together, these projects will deliver enough electricity to power more than 2.2 million homes once completed. In September, Governor Hochul called for the expansion of the highly successful NY-Sun program to achieve an expanded goal of at least 10 gigawatts of distributed solar installed by 2030.

Since 2011, NY-Sun, New York State's $1.8 billion initiative to advance the scale-up of solar and move the State closer to having a sustainable, self-sufficient solar industry, has:

  • Installed solar on the rooftop or property of 145,000 homes spanning every county in New York;
  • Provided over $1 billion in incentives, leveraging $5.3 billion in private investment;
  • Drove over 2,100 percent solar growth in the State;
  • Delivered enough clean, renewable energy to power over 522,000 New York homes;
  • Fostered 12,000 jobs in the solar industry;
  • Helped to drive down the cost of solar 69 percent in 10 years; and
  • Committed $30 million for projects benefiting environmental justice and disadvantaged communities.

New York has committed more than $120 million to support existing workforce development and training initiatives within the state - helping to train and prepare more than 40,000 New Yorkers for growing clean energy job opportunities and assist clean energy businesses in recruiting, hiring, and training workers. The State's efforts prioritize training programs for the state's most underserved populations - low-income individuals, veterans, disabled workers, single parents, and the formerly incarcerated - and will also help integrate displaced workers into the clean energy industry.

Additionally, New York State will commit to collaborating with the Hispanic Federation and their local partners to provide guidance and best practices to help strengthen Puerto Rico's solar energy industry and build up the local workforce needed to meet Puerto Rico's goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

New York State's Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State's climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality. It builds on New York's unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $21 billion in 91 large-scale renewable projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.2 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments supported more than 150,000 jobs in New York's clean energy sector since 2015, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011, and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent (with a goal of 40 percent) of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state's 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.