Clean Energy Internship Program Details
NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Internship Program is partially funding the salary of skilled interns for eligible clean energy businesses. Funding is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, and the amount is dependent on your business size:
- Percent covered for employers with up to 100 employees: 90%
- Percent covered for employers with 101 or more employees: 75%
Read the full PON 4000 funding opportunity here.
Applying as a participating clean energy business allows you to hire interns through the program. Funding for specific internships is not approved at the business application stage – funding is reserved once complete internship applications are submitted by the participating business and approved by NYSERDA.
Intern selection and hiring
Eligible businesses can either choose approved candidates from NYSERDA’s intern directory or select their own interns and have them directly apply through the Clean Energy Internship Program. Participating interns must be a new hire for the company, not currently or previously employed at that host business as an intern, contractor, or full-time employee.
Businesses with two employees who receive an IRS W-2 form and who work full-time can have up to seven interns participating in the program at one time. The cap for businesses with under two qualifying employees that are approved for the program (registered minority-owned, women-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses only) is three interns participating in the program at one time. Registered minority-owned, women-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses are eligible for the full cap of seven interns at one time if they have two or more qualifying employees.
A business can be reimbursed for up to 30 interns over the duration of the program, with the exception of minority-owned, women-owned, and/or service-disabled veteran owned businesses registered with New York State or certified with New York City. These businesses do not have a cap on the total number of interns they can be reimbursed for over the duration of the program.
Internships will last a minimum of 8 weeks and must last a minimum of 80 total hours. Internships shorter than 8 weeks in total length may be considered on a case-by-case basis for internships conducted as part of Career Pathways training initiatives; however, pre-approval by NYSERDA is required.
If an intern is not taking any classes during the internship, the maximum NYSERDA reimbursement is 40 hours per week on average during the internship. While an intern is taking one or more classes, NYSERDA will only reimburse up to 18 hours per week on average. Total hours eligible for reimbursement are capped at 480 hours or the total of intern hours completed within a 12-month period, whichever is fewer.
While NYSERDA can support remote internships, any intern supported under this PON must work in New York State. If the intern is working from home during their internship, they must be living in New York State to participate in the program.
Wages eligible for reimbursement
Interns must be paid as W-2 employees on an hourly basis. Intern wages that will be reimbursed at the reimbursement percentage can range from the New York State minimum wage at the time of hire to up to $17 per hour. (The maximum hourly reimbursement rate is the amount after the reimbursement percentage (90% or 75%) is applied to $17 per hour. While businesses may pay more, the reimbursement amount is based on wages up to $17 per hour. NYSERDA will not approve funding for positions where the employee is paid more than $25 per hour.
Read the full funding opportunity for more information about the program, or view frequently asked questions below.
Guidance on the internship application submission and invoicing processes can be found in the Clean Energy Internship Program: Business User Guides
If you have additional questions about the program, please contact [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the process for reviewing candidates?
The review of candidates for internships is done exclusively by the host employer, and they may interview and hire candidates with the qualifications that are most suited to their needs. Host employers approved to participate in the program can gain access to a directory of approved interns. All interns must have applied and been approved to participate in the program. If you find an intern that you are interested in hiring, please have them submit an intern application.
How many interns can I hire?
Businesses with two or more qualifying employees can have up to seven interns participating in the program at one time. The cap for businesses with under two qualifying employees that are approved for the program (registered minority-owned, women-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses only) is three interns participating in the program at one time. Registered minority-owned, women-owned, and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses are eligible for the full cap of seven interns at one time if they have two or more full-time-equivalent employees.
How long can an intern remain at my organization?
An intern will be subsidized for up to 480 total hours of work within a 12-month period. They may stay on after the conclusion of a session, but their work will not be subsidized by NYSERDA. Eligible businesses may be able to apply for NYSERDA funding through the On-the-Job training program to hire eligible individuals as full-time employees at the conclusion of an internship (see On-the-Job Training Program requirements for details). Note that applications for funding through the On-the-Job Training Program must be approved before the individual starts as a full-time employee.
The cleantech industry is very competitive. I’d like to have my intern sign a non-compete agreement. Is there a policy for non-compete agreements?
The goal of this program is to increase opportunities for students entering the clean energy workforce and improve their prospects for future employment in the industry. A non-compete agreement goes against the spirit of the program, and therefore, at no point shall an intern sign a non-compete agreement. If a Host Employer attempts to execute a non-compete agreement with a subsidized intern, that employer will not be eligible to receive reimbursement through the Internship Program. It is instead suggested that an intern be asked to sign a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement, if necessary, to protect any sensitive information.
How quickly are reimbursements issued?
Businesses may request reimbursement from NYSERDA for the wages paid to the intern one time at the end of the internship or businesses may request progress reimbursement payments no more frequently than every 12 weeks of intern work.
Can interns be hired as 1099 contractors?
No, interns cannot be hired as 1099 contractors.
Will NYSERDA provide reimbursement for intern paid holidays, vacation time, or fringe benefits?
NYSERDA provides reimbursement on wages paid for eligible hours worked. NYSERDA will not provide reimbursement on vacation time, paid holidays, or fringe benefit costs. As interns must be distinct from permanent hires, it is expected that compensation, including any benefits, offered to an intern are different than those offered to permanent hires an an organization.
My intern left before completing the internship. What happens?
The minimum duration for an internship is 8 weeks and 80 hours of work. NYSERDA reserves the right to determine whether or not reimbursement can be paid for internships terminated early.
The program is now open and accepting business applications via an online form.
Please review the full PON 4000 funding opportunity Summary document (found here) before applying. Applicants to the program agree to comply with the procedures and requirements of the New York State Clean Energy Internship Program (PON 4000).APPLY TODAY