Non-Profit Brings Solar to Low-Income Neighborhoods
Residential solar power has become increasingly affordable over the past few years as an environmentally friendly, cost-saving alternative to traditionally sources of energy. But even as costs have lowered, the price for solar installations still remains too high for low-income communities. GRID Alternatives, a solar installation non-profit, takes great measures to bring green opportunities to such communities.
GRID Alternatives leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar electric systems exclusively for low-income homeowners. The installations provide needed savings for families struggling to make ends meet. According to GRID Alternative, residents that are selected to receive solar panels on their home can expect to see their annual energy costs cut in half.
A recent installation in Brooklyn, New York was the organization’s first venture in the region. Since 2004, GRID Alternatives’ Solar Affordable Housing Program has installed more than 3,700 similar projects across the United States. A study released earlier this year said nearly all of New York State’s energy needs could be met with a combination of wind, hydroelectric and solar power by 2030 with a concerted push.
Many of the volunteers were trainees with Green City Force, an on-the job service corps that helps young, low-income people enter sustainable careers.
“I looked out at all the other roofs out there that are going to want this,” one worker said during the event. “I thought to myself, ‘That’s one down, thousands to go.’”
GRID Alternatives Brief History:
GRID Alternatives was founded during the 2001 California energy crisis by Erica Mackie, P.E., and Tim Sears, P.E., two engineering professionals who were implementing large-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for the private sector. The vision that drove them was simple: free, clean electricity from the sun should be available to everyone. Through GRID Alternatives, they developed a model to make solar PV technology practical and accessible for low-income communities that need the savings and jobs the most, yet have the least access. By taking a broader approach to solar as not just an environmental good but also a real-world solution to a real-world economic problem in these communities, GRID Alternatives is helping to set the stage for large-scale solar adoption nationwide.