As a single mom of three and a proud grandmother, Kareen Hunter believes strongly in family and in preserving the world for our children. That's why she went solar with GRID Alternatives.Read the story
GRID Alternatives has partnered with 93 low-income families in the Bayview-Hunter's Point Neighborhood to install PV systems that combat asthma, chronic illness, and high mortality rates caused by air pollution.Read the story
GRID Alternatives provides hands-on solar installation experience for those looking for work in the solar industry. For job trainees, team leaders and even interns like Courtney Dittmar, GRID serves as a link to long-term employment.Read the story
GRID Alternatives Bay Area office leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar electric systems for low-income families from Santa Clara to Mendocino County, providing families with needed savings and giving Bay Area workers hands-on experience to help them find jobs in the green-tech economy.
Bay Area NewsSee all news
- Enphase employee volunteers came out with GRID to install for a single mother of four. Read more
- Our friends at Clean Power Finance grew mustaches - all in support of renewable energy for all. Read more
- Another Bayview rooftop goes solar! This month we installed for small-business owners of All Good Pizza. Read more
- Espanola Jackson is an icon in her community who's helped over 100 fellow community members get solar… Read more
- GRID's warehouse internship program is jumpstarting solar careers by training interns in solar installation,… Read more
- 2013 was an incredible year for GRID Bay Area! Check out the impact that you helped us create. Read more
- Rafael and his wife are both cancer survivors, proud parents, and now owners of a new solar PV system… Read more
- Check out these energy efficiency tips that can help everyone save money and the planet! Read more
- The Bay's Young Professionals in Energy show that you can learn a lot while giving back. Read more
Enphase Energy brings clean energy to all by renewing commitment to GRID
In March, GRID and Enphase employee volunteers installed for Vera Tabib, a single mother of four with two children still living at home; a 20-year-old daughter who is attending community college, and an 18-year-old son with Down’s syndrome. Years ago she and her family considered solar but could not afford it. “This is a dream come true,” she says.
This is the first of four solar installations Enphase employees will complete with GRID this year as a part of our larger partnership we just announced here.
Vera’s electricity bills run around $50 a month. She says their new savings will help the family a lot as she is helping her daughter go to school. “This is such a good program, I would love to see it grow. When it was offered to us I said, ‘Are you kidding, of course I want it!’”
The Tabib’s new 2.3 kW system is projected to save the family over $20,000 in energy costs over the systems’ life span, while eliminating nearly 67 tons of greenhouse gas emissions – the equivalent of 12 cars off the road for one year, or over 1,500 trees planted.
“The idea of creating clean energy is so great,” Vera shared. "Every rooftop in California should have it.” With help from partners like Enphase Energy, GRID is making Vera’s vision a reality. Please see more photos here!
Mustache March: Growing for GRID
You may have heard of Movember, but have you heard of Mustache March? We hadn’t either until five dudes grew five mustaches – all in support of GRID. Modeled after Movember, a few of our friends at Clean Power Finance (CPF) took the month of March to fundraise for their favorite nonprofit by growing facial hair. As the founder of CPF’s first annual Mustache March fundraiser, Nick Gonzalez said, “the custom of growing a mustache in defiance of rules and girlfriends has become a fun way to raise awareness while creating a socially acceptable situation to grow extravagant facial hair.”
In addition to sporting some pretty sweet ‘staches, the mustachioed crew even exceeded their fundraising goal and raised over $1,000 to support GRID; funding that will go directly towards making renewable energy technology and job training accessible to everyone. As Nick shared, “Ultimately, CPF's (officially unofficial) 1st Annual Mustache March was a huge success and we are all super stoked to do it all over again next year.”
We love this creative FUNdraising! CPF, thanks for donating your awesome mustaches to GRID. We can’t wait for next year. See our Twitter post and Flicker album from the final night: mustaches were judged, prizes were awarded by GRID staff, and a great time was had by all. Hats off (or on?) to our top fundraiser, David Inda, who received the most coveted of prizes: a GRID trucker hat with a furry mustache.
Bayview Solar Superstar Homeowners
At GRID Alternatives our greatest advocates for spreading the word on solar are often our clients. Last week in San Francisco’s Bayview neighborhood, we got the chance to install for and get to know one particular solar superstar family.
Having heard about solar from neighbors who had their own solar installed by GRID, Kristin Houk and husband Matt Tehran decided to follow suit. Over the years they have been greening their home because they felt a responsibility to help clean the air. As parents of two young boys, Kristin says, “We feel it is our responsibility to protect our planet and the resources we have for our children’s future. By going solar we can really amplify our efforts and we are thrilled to be saving money on our electricity bill.” Last week, with the help of volunteer employees at Sunrun – a provider of residential solar – GRID installed solar for Kristin and Matt.
As we reach out to all of our Bay Area communities we’ve found the partnerships we make with local organizations and individuals has been our greatest resource in expanding the movement. When our clients become the face of solar in their communities and speak about their experience with GRID we hear from neighbors and friends and in-turn, further our impact in the Bay Area.
As local entrepreneurs and long-time residents of the Bayview, Kristin and Matt are spreading the word on solar. In fact, they plan on posting information on how to go solar in their food truck-style restaurant – All Good Pizza – for their neighbors. Additionally, as community organizers they look forward to keeping GRID in the neighborhood through events and gatherings.
As Kristin says, “If more people knew about programs like GRID and the fact that solar is accessible, they would be willing to do their part.”
We think so too. Thanks Bayview solar superstars!
How One Woman Spread Solar to Hundreds
Espanola Jackson is a San Francisco Bay Point resident of 46 years, community activist, grandmother to over 70 grandchildren and the proud owner of a solar powered home thanks to GRID Alternatives. However, Espanola’s pathway to solar isn’t typical and neither is her dedication to spreading solar to over 100 fellow San Francisco homeowners.
In 2009 a fire caused by an old heating system left the top floor of Espanola’s home charred. Espanola was shocked by this unfortunate event but also felt that it would bring positivity to her life in some form. During the weeks following the house fire she attended a Public Utilities Commission meeting where she heard about the opportunity to own her own solar system for little to no cost. The next day she submitted her application, received approval, and was next in line to get solar through GRID. When GRID contacted her to set up the date of her install she kindly informed the scheduler that she was very excited to get solar but that her neighbor was desperate for savings and should get their system installed first. GRID responded by immediately reaching out to Espanola's referral and in no time had set the date for both neighborhood installs. The systems were installed the following week leaving Espanola with a 2.0 Kw system on her roof and a reduced electric bill costing around 4 dollars a month.
Feeling blessed with the opportunity to become a solar homeowner, Espanola felt she should help more people in her community get involved with GRID, and that's exactly what she did. From 2010 to 2012, she told hundreds of community members about the opportunity and this yielded spectacular results. From 2010 to 2012 over 90% of all San Francisco clients that heard about GRID through word of mouth came through Espanola. When asked "If you could give solar to one more homeowner in San Francisco who would it be?" She answers, “I would give it to everyone, because it’s not about one person, it’s about the people."
Giving the gift of solar is an amazing feeling that is best rewarded by the smile of a homeowner turning on their system for the first time. At GRID we have the unique opportunity to solarize thousands of roofs, but this can only happen with your help! Almost everyone knows a homeowner who qualifies for solar through GRID, and that’s why we’re asking all our supporters to refer at least one person in their network. We can all be a solar catalyst like Espanola by referring homeowners, and not only reduce electricity cost for family, friends, and neighbors, but also inspire others to brighten the world for future generations.
Please check out these GRID qualification guidelines and if anyone you know living in Richmond, Oakland, SF, or San Jose could potentially qualify, please have them call Ronnie at 510 731 1334 to check their eligibility.
From GRID Interns to Solar Installers
2013 - A Shining Year for GRID Bay Area
2013 was an incredible year for GRID Bay Area. Along with increasing the amount of kilowatts installed, volunteers trained, and solar job placements, we also held a successful Solarthon in Richmond, instituted an in-house solar workshop series, reached new fundraising heights, and installed solar in 29 different municipalities. We also installed solar on our own warehouse, which will help make us a net energy producer during the summer months. Thanks to everyone who made it possible!
As we look forward to even more success in 2014, we would like to reflect on what we accomplished over the last 12 months. We couldn’t have done it without every single one of our supporters, and that includes you! That’s why we’d like to take a minute and thank you for all the time, energy, ideas, donations and much more that you gave to help GRID Bay Area have one of our most successful years to date.
However, we can't stop now. 2014 is calling and the need for solar powered homes and green energy advocates in communities across our region is increasing. We are willing to take on the challenge to improve on each of our impact areas by the end of 2014, but we can't do it without your help. So please check out the inspiring statistics below of the impact that you helped us achieve in 2013 and consider helping us make an even greater impact in 2014 by donating your time, money, and ideas!
Installs completed – 162
Kilowatts installed – 413
Total lifetime savings systems will save homeowners - $3,869,000
Tons of Greenhouse gases prevented – 12,105
Volunteers Trained – 909
Volunteers who got jobs in the solar industry - 17
Solar Skill Workshops held at GRID - 4
Number of Bay Area municipalities where GRID installed – 29 (Antioch, Arcata, Bay Point, Bayside, Campbell, Clearlake, Covelo, Emeryville, Eureka, Fairfield, Gilroy, Hayward, Hopland, Lakeport, McKinleyville, Menlo Park, Morgan Hill, Novato, Oakland, Pinole, Point Arena, Redwood City, Richmond, Sebastopol, San Francisco, San Jose, Ukiah, Vacaville, Walnut Creek)
If you'd like to help us make 2014 an even more impactful year, please consider donating one or more of the following items:
To Donate TIME, please visit the volunteer portal and sign up for an install by clicking here
To Donate MONEY, please visit our website by clicking here
To Donate IDEAS, please send us an email by clicking here
Here's to another exciting year together - onward and upward!
After "Rough Times," Solar Helps Family of 8
"All we knew is that solar panels help you save energy."
This was Rafael Macias' answer when asked how much he knew about solar before working with GRID Alternatives to install a 2.9 kilowatt system on his home in San Jose last week.
Rafael and his wife, Lina, are both cancer survivors and the proud parents of 6 children, ranging in age from 3 to 23 years old. With their health challenges and the expenses of a large family - not to mention that their roof needed to be replaced - neither of them ever thought solar could help them find economic security.
"I came down with this illness that kept me off work for 8 months and we went downhill - we ran out of savings, ran out of money, ran out of everything. Rough times," Rafael explains.
But the Macias family was too excited to both save money and help the environment to let their aging roof get in the way of a great opportunity with GRID. A week after receiving referrals from GRID staff and rallying support from their extended family to raise the funds for the roof replacement, Rafael and Lina had a new roof and were ready for solar!
"We're both cancer survivors, so finally something good is happening for us," Rafael adds. They plan to use the savings from their solar system - estimated at approximately $29,000 over the next 30 years - for food and college expenses for their children.
GRID would like to congratulate the Macias family on the hard work and dedication they put into becoming solar energy leaders in their neighborhood! Click here to see pictures from their install.
Less is More with Energy Efficiency: Tips for Saving Money and the Planet
Sunshine is in no short supply around here, but solar panels are a finite resource – not to mention that large solar arrays can present a fair amount of financial and logistical hurdles. While GRID promotes increased use of solar energy, we aim to do it the responsible way by helping families reduce their electricity usage before we install solar for them. That’s why every homeowner that receives the gift of solar through GRID goes through energy efficiency training to help keep their utility costs at a minimum.
With colder months on the horizon, there’s never a better time for all of us to make simple changes to our homes and habits that can result in lower utility costs and a smaller carbon footprint. As individuals it may not seem like we can put a dent in the current energy crisis, but if every person takes up one energy saving behavior we can make an enormous impact. For example, if all California residents unplugged appliances when they weren’t using them, it would save upwards of $640 million each year. That translates into an estimated 2.9 million Megawatts!
So check out this list of small things you can do to save money and the planet at the same time - and don’t forget to tell your friends!
- Use lids on pots and pans to reduce cooking time.
- Don’t boil more water than you need when making coffee, tea, or other hot drinks.
- Unplug electrical devices when not in use, especially laptops. A power strip can make this easy. And when taking a vacation, don’t forget to give your appliances a rest too by unplugging them.
- For smaller meals, cook with small appliances like toaster ovens and microwaves, or even use the small burner on the stove.
- Use cold water when running the garbage disposal.
- Let food cool down before putting it in the refrigerator.
- Use a humidifier during cooler months. It makes you feel warmer and allows you to turn down the thermostat a couple degrees
- Heat your home with the sun. Open the blinds and let light in during cooler months to naturally heat your house
- Clean the coils of your refrigerator, but don’t forget to unplug it before you take on this task.
- Dress for the occasion. Often times putting on a sweater in the winter can really make a difference.
- Open the refrigerator door for shorter durations. Instead of keeping the door open while pondering your dinner choice, take a quick scan of what’s inside, close the door, and then start planning.
- If you have hardwood or tile floor, add rugs to keep your feet warm.
- Check the exterior of your home for air leaks. These could be around spigots, dryer vents, gas pipes, etc. You can use caulk or expanding foam to seal them up.
- Install a programmable thermostat which allows you to keep temperatures low when you’re away for the day.
- Insulate your water pipes with half inch foam or pipe tape wherever they are exposed.
- Move furniture away from exterior walls and drafts during cooler months to make sitting areas warmer.
- Replace or clean furnace filters.
- Turn your water heater down to 120 - 125 degrees.
- Use weather stripping to seal drafts under doors.
Young Professionals in Energy: Out of the office and on to the roof!
While most of the Bay Area flocked to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, 20 members of the Young Professionals in Energy (YPE), a national networking group, were donning hard hats and harnesses to install a solar electric system for the Li family in San Francisco.
Not only did the YPE crew volunteer their time, they also worked hard all summer to raise over $9,000 to support the installation! Special thanks also to Jinko Solar, a GRID equipment partner whose donated panels were used for this project.
YPE members were inspired by GRID’s impacts to organize this fundraising and volunteering event. “There’s a great marriage with GRID [and YPE] where you learn something about energy and then you have the whole service aspect of helping low-income families,” explains Alex Portilla, of YPE’s Events Committee. “Within the membership of YPE, there’s a large constituency of people who believe and work in renewable energy and want to give back while at the same time learning more about it.”
“Being on the roof was very empowering and satisfying,” adds Peter Do, YPE’s highest fundraiser and newly minted GRID champion. “The YPE opportunity was really unique to me because it was addressing two things that are near and dear to my heart, two things that build on each other. Not only are we preventing greenhouse gases, we’re doing it in the context of affordable housing. It’s a win for everyone.”
YPE members are a true testament to the power of volunteerism in the growing solar revolution. Not only were they willing to climb a two-story house to install the solar panels but they went the extra mile to fundraise from their personal networks - even their own wallets - to support the installation. On behalf of the Li family, and everyone with a dream of going solar, thank you YPE!