The Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator is a new program to support solar workforce development, finance, and microgrid development in Puerto Rico. Led by The Solar Foundation in partnership with Pathstone Corporation, Inc. and the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez, this program will expand and strengthen the Puerto Rican solar industry and spur the development of a highly qualified workforce. 

This program is part of a $4.5 million initiative to provide business assistance and workforce development for Puerto Rican solar and construction companies. The project, with support from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), represents a joint, public-private effort to train and place workers in solar plus storage and construction. 

Through the Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator, The Solar Foundation and partners will work collaboratively with Puerto Rican solar companies to improve financing for solar projects and support a robust workforce pipeline. The team will also develop two solar and storage microgrid development pilots.

This program builds on The Solar Foundation’s accomplishments working with businesses, nonprofits, and local governments across the United states to expand solar markets and develop a highly skilled solar workforce. Since Hurricane Maria, The Solar Foundation has worked in partnership with local businesses and nonprofits to install solar and storage at critical locations through the Solar Saves Lives initiative. 

The island-wide effort will operate out of The Solar Foundation’s newly opened office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and PathStone’s Puerto Rico Central Office in Ponce, as well as Pathstone’s regional service sites. PathStone is a New York-based non-profit organization with 50 years of community development experience including workforce development, housing, and technical assistance to small businesses.

Another partner on this project, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), will provide cost share for seven qualified instructors from the State University of New York (SUNY) and City University of New York (CUNY) to provide solar training in Puerto Rico. Other partners on this program include Oxfam America, the Coastal Marine Resource Center, and Sunnova. 

“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

“The local energy needs and the potential for solar power in Puerto Rico are two of the key areas that the electric power engineering section at UPRM has been researching the last couple of decades. With this project, we have the opportunity to take a deeper look at the integration of that research with the solar power workforce needed to overcome vulnerabilities that cost more than 3,000 lives in 2017. The long term impacts of this project could save lives after an intense hurricane, accelerate the shift towards energy sovereignty and provide our graduates good local job opportunities for the much needed economic revitalization.” — Marcel Castro-Sitiriche, lead of the research team at the University of Puerto Rico in Mayagüez

“While the recovery and rebuilding effort after Hurricane Maria has been painfully slow, there is still an enormous opportunity to get it right. Oxfam has been working since the hurricane to help empower local communities, ensuring the rebuilding process is responsive to their needs while empowering them be more resilient to future storms. We’re proud to support innovative solutions to the hurricane recovery, including the Solar Foundation’s Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator.” — María Concepción, Puerto Rico Program Manager for Oxfam America