Technicians install an array of solar panels on a roof.

Technicians install an array of solar panels on a roof. Credit: AP/John Minchillo

New York State is providing a $249,000 grant to fund United Way of Long Island's Power Up! Wind, Solar & Renewables program, to train a new, culturally diverse green-energy workforce.

United Way launched the program in 2022 with an initial $250,000 grant from Bank of America. The program combines classroom learning with on-the-job training to develop a labor force in the burgeoning solar, wind and related green-energy fields.

United Way of Long Island is one of 14 recipients of $7 million in new funding announced by Gov. Kathy Hochul last week, through the state Office of Strategic Workforce Development, to support the training of more than 3,700 workers "through collaboration between training providers and more than 100 employer partners in fields like advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, and construction," the state said. 

 In a statement, Hochul said the workforce office will "support the needs of New York's businesses while providing resources to training programs that are removing long-standing barriers to the training and skills necessary to thrive in the workforce of the future." The office made $6 million in workforce development grants last year. 

The  agency is making "smart and strategic investments in programs that will provide New York State's workforce with the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing business climate," Hope Knight, president and chief executive of Empire State Development, said in a statement. 

The 50-hour Power Up! training curriculum  covers technical, functional and "soft skills that will lead to employment in the renewables and green-construction sectors," United Way said when the program was announced in 2021.

With the program’s first-year Class of 2022, 115 Long Islanders have completed the curriculum and training, and another 150 will complete  them in 2023, United Way said, adding the program seeks to train the unemployed and veterans as well as youth entering the job market. 

Power Up!  graduates are proficient in the installation of clean heating and cooling technologies, solar panels, electric-vehicle charging and the benefits of renewable energy, United Way said. Some 40% of graduates are already in the workforce, according to the organization, and "on the way to financial stability and careers in the energy industry through connections made in the workforce program."

"Two years ago, Bank of America’s initial grant helped advance our mission focus and strategy to create career pathways in the offshore wind, renewable/sustainable, smart grid and green construction industries,” said Theresa Regnante, United Way of Long Island's president and chief executive officer. “Power Up! is an example of all the good that comes when labor, industry and government work together to benefit all Long Islanders.”

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