Gabriel Perez, regional manager for Blue Planet Energy in Latin America, was recently recognized on stage by the Clinton Foundation for his work supporting and developing the renewable energy workforce in Puerto Rico. Perez’s work with Asociación de Contratistas y Consultores de Energía Renovable (ACONER), for which he is on the Board, caught the attention of the Clinton Foundation, which celebrated all the major stakeholders on the island who are actively engaged with rebuilding a more resilient Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Watch Secretary Hillary Clinton deliver a summary of the commitments in Puerto Rico’s workforce development from collaborators Bosque Modelo, Solar Energy International, Oxfam America, Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer (CPM), Segarra Boerman Foundation, and ACONER (video courtesy of SEI). You will be able to spot Perez representing Blue Planet Energy and Hawaii by his blue kukui nut lei.
Through the Clinton Foundation-supported initiative named Work-Based Training for Women in Renewable Energy and in partnership with ACONER, Oxfam America, Solar Energy International (SEI), and additional supporters, Bosque Modelo will strengthen the role of women in renewable energy in Puerto Rico by expanding their training program in 2020.
Expanding Women’s Role in Renewables
Bosque Modelo is a region in Puerto Rico with a population of 453,000 people, 54% of whom live below the poverty rate. In the aftermath of the storm, Bosque Modelo found that it was mostly women who organized recovery efforts in their communities and mobilized resources to address the lack of water and power. Yet simultaneously, women have faced greater challenges in finding employment following the storms.
After multiple community conversations, Bosque Modelo decided to launch a program in 2019 to train rural women in solar installations to support their economic mobility and close the gender gap in the electrical sector. Out of 5,500 certified electricians in Puerto Rico, only 18 are women, and out of those 18 certified electrician women, only five have the certification that is required to install solar energy systems.
Joining the effort was Blue Planet Energy, who had been actively involved with workforce development in Puerto Rico since January of 2018. Blue Planet Energy has trained close to 1,000 individuals in Puerto Rico in the design, installation, and business aspects of energy storage systems. Its training activities have expanded to include presentations to students at local technical schools such as Escuela Técnica De Electricidad with programs in Fajardo, Ponce, and San Juan.
Now, through the Work-Based Training for Women in Renewable Energy initiative, 25 women from the Bosque Modelo region in Puerto Rico will receive training in the fundamentals of solar energy, receiving support to complete 100 hours of academic contact and 20 hours of laboratory training. Importantly, Bosque Modelo will provide support with stipends for childcare and travel.
The initiative partners plan to provide paid internships for participants with solar companies in Puerto Rico, to be coordinated with support from ACONER.
To read more about Blue Planet Energy’s workforce development efforts in Puerto Rico, read this blog post.