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
- 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
- Get your new, super stylish GRID hats and sunglasses today! Read more
- Luke went from having relatively no solar experience to being a paid solar installer in three months.… Read more
- How GRID - and 150+ of our friends - installed solar for 8 families in 1 day Read more
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 approved, 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 which left Espanola with a 2.0 Kw system on her roof and reduced her monthly electric bill to around 4 dollars a month.
After 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 she 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 can only be shown by the smile of a homeowner who turns 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. So please click hereto view the client qualifications and then reach out to people in your network who you think could qualify. We can all be a solar catalyst like Espanola, 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 theseGRID qualification guidelines and if anyone you know may 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!
Solarize your style!
Solar panels love sunshine. Your eyes? Not so much. So why not protect them the GRID way with a new, super stylish GRID Alternatives hat and sunglasses! All proceeds go towards funding GRID’s work to make solar power a clean, renewable alternative for families in need.
For $10, you can flaunt your own pair of GRID-green wayfarers and make the most of the Bay Area’s notoriously late summer. If a hat’s more your style, we’ve got some chic trucker hats for $25. Prices do not include shipping.
|GRID sunglasses||GRID trucker hat|
From GRID Volunteer to Solar Installer in Three Short Months
“The people you meet through GRID are potentially great resources to learn more or get your foot in the door for a job opportunity.” That couldn’t be more true for Luke Wojtaszek, who was recently hired as a paid solar installer for 510 Solar after only three short months as a GRID volunteer.
Luke’s fast track to solar employment couldn’t have happened without three key components: motivation, a little bit of luck, and volunteer experience through GRID.
Motivated by his interest in solar, Luke met a GRID Team Leader at a green networking event who recommended he get involved with GRID if he wanted to get solar installation experience. As luck would have it, that GRID Team Leader happened to be none other than Nate Blumenkrantz, founder of the solar installation company 510 Solar who got his start in solar as a GRID volunteer himself. Luke began his own journey to becoming a GRID Team Leader - gaining over 50 hours of installation experience - and didn’t forget to email Nate to thank him for the recommendation. Nate responded, this time not with a volunteer opportunity, but with information for a job opening at 510 Solar.
Luke’s volunteer install experience through GRID allowed him to land the job as an entry level solar installer for 510 Solar. In Luke’s words “GRID was my entry point into the solar industry. Without GRID, I wouldn't have had the experience to even apply for a job as a solar installer. The ability to become a Team Leader was even more help. It not only showed I know how to do things well enough to teach other volunteers, it also showed I was serious about solar”.
These stories of solar job connections are ones we hear often at GRID offices across the state. To date, our volunteers have landed jobs at over 30 renewable energy companies and counting. With the industry on the rise, we are hoping to increase our ability to connect volunteers to valuable job opportunities at respectable companies like 510 Solar. This is why we added our new Solar Employment Opportunities page to our website that has links to career and job opportunities at solar companies in the Bay Area. GRID is very fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers and advocates like Luke and Nate, and this makes us believe that there are many bright futures on the horizon for GRID volunteers seeking solar employment!