Puerto Rico: Accelerating Energy Resilience

IREC is accelerating the growth of the Puerto Rico solar industry and workforce.

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At IREC, we are building the foundation for a sustainable and prosperous future in Puerto Rico. We work in partnership with communities to find innovative solutions that reduce energy costs, promote energy resilience, and create jobs.

Puerto Rico has abundant resources to support the growth of solar energy, battery storage, and energy efficiency. Community by community, these clean energy solutions will make it possible to reach a 100% clean energy future across the island.

Some of our key strategies include:

  • We work with communities and municipalities to develop microgrids and other clean energy installations.
  • We develop energy resilience plans which help communities chart a path toward clean energy use.
  • We propose solar energy finance solutions that open new opportunities to thousands of solar consumers.
  • We encourage the growth of a diverse clean energy workforce in Puerto Rico. 

We partner with community leaders, nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, interest groups, private businesses, and members of the public who are joining us to help transform Puerto Rico’s energy system and move toward a renewable and sustainable future.

Solar for Low-Income Households

We’re thrilled to join Generac in this new program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to install solar and storage on low-income households in Puerto Rico. IREC will use its expertise on the clean energy workforce to identify employment needs and gaps to support these clean energy installations. We will review training plans for solar workers and provide recommendations for recruitment. To support a positive customer experience, IREC will also lead independent surveys on the customer acquisition and installation process.

This latest announcement is part of IREC’s ongoing work to make clean energy more widely accessible in Puerto Rico and support community resilience. We’re proud to be part of this effort with Generac, Pathstone Corporation, and other partners.

New Energy Resilience Hubs

IREC sat down with U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who visited the municipality of Yabucoa to discuss ongoing clean energy initiatives in Puerto Rico.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, IREC is leading a new initiative to facilitate community-based solar-plus-storage installations. These Resilience Hubs, owned and stewarded by the community, will allow between seven and ten of Puerto Rico’s most vulnerable communities to access reliable electricity during, before, or after an extreme storm or another disaster that affects the electric grid.

This project will be carried out in full partnership with community leaders. Community members from diverse backgrounds are involved in decision-making processes related to the dimensioning, contracting, maintenance, and operation of the resilience hubs with special attention given to making information accessible and specific to each community’s needs. This paradigm shift in how communities are organized and educated aims to bring them closer to the benefits and leadership opportunities in the clean energy sector. The current participants include Villa Esperanza, Toa Alta; Guayabota, Yabucoa; Calabazas Arriba, Yabucoa; Cubuy, Canóvanas; and Calle Abajo, Lajas. The project is in collaboration with the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez.

Castañer: A Community Microgrid to Advance Energy Resilience

We are working with the community of Castañer to develop an innovative resilience plan based on local needs and priorities with a special emphasis on vulnerable populations as defined by the community. Through an inclusive planning process, our goal is to make the local energy system stronger and more reliable. The insights gained through this plan will also help the community prepare for and recover from extreme weather emergencies. 

This initiative is built on a community microgrid that we developed in partnership with the Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña, the University of Puerto Rico—Mayagüez, and community leaders. With funding support from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration, the microgrid currently provides clean and reliable energy to six local businesses, two vehicle charging stations, and two homes. It is one of Puerto Rico’s first examples of microgrid interconnection using multiple facilities.

The resilience plan will support the needs and priorities of community leaders, residents, and businesses in Castañer. 

This plan is part of the RACER (Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience) program funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. This program provides long-term climate resilience solutions by assisting with clean energy deployment and improvements in at-risk municipalities, facilitating sustained investment in historically disadvantaged communities. When the planning process is complete, our partners at Slipstream Group, Inc. will design and implement a system using innovative technology to coordinate and maximize the solar PV panels and microgrid to enhance energy resilience.

Solar Energy for Local Governments

The Cooperativa de Energía La Margarita (AbeynoCoop), led by Wanda J. Ríos Colorado, was selected to participate in SolSmart, a national program that helps local governments encourage solar energy development in their communities. The cooperative will recruit municipalities to receive no-cost technical assistance to further their transition to renewable energy. As of 2023, more than 500 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations in the United States (and five in Puerto Rico!) have achieved SolSmart designation.

A community workshop in Calle Abajo, Lajas

Solar Energy Finance

In a new report, we explore the opportunities and barriers to solar energy finance in Puerto Rico. This report addresses the challenge of providing clean energy to millions of households and businesses that have limited resources and difficulty obtaining finance for solar energy projects.

The report details the growth of finance solutions including loans from cooperatives and banks, federal finance programs, power purchase agreements, and solutions for renters. Learn more in the report, An Assessment of Opportunities and Barriers to Solar Finance in Puerto Rico: Second Edition.

We joined IBTS and NYSERDA to offer a continuing education course at no
cost to expert electricians and professional engineers. 

Growth of the Clean Energy Workforce

In our report Puerto Rico Solar Jobs in 2050, we projected an exponential growth in Puerto Rico’s solar workforce. To meet the requirements of its Renewable Energy Portfolio, Puerto Rico will have to increase its solar energy installed capacity from 386 MW to 16,275 MW by 2050. To reach this goal, nearly 20,000 new solar jobs will be required in areas such as installation, sales, operations and maintenance, and manufacturing.

In 2021, with more than 100 participants in attendance, IREC organized a roundtable to discuss Puerto Rico’s solar industry workforce development goals, including job growth, education, and training. Through this dialogue, we generated ideas on how to support a high-quality and diverse clean energy workforce in Puerto Rico. We hope to hold future discussions soon!

Gender Equality: A Case Study at the Río Piedras Market

The future of clean energy in Puerto Rico will depend on the strength and diversity of the workforce. Working with our partners, we are committed to increasing the representation of women, the LGBTQ+ community, and other diverse groups in Puerto Rico’s clean energy industries.

Join Us

We are excited to embark on several other initiatives to promote community resilience in partnership with government entities, nonprofit organizations, and businesses. We recently launched ConSOLcio, an alliance that will provide the scaffolding to support the development, financing, and operations of responsible community projects that promote energy independence throughout Puerto Rico using a cooperative model.

If you would like to discuss ideas or opportunities to participate in our work, please contact us today.