People. Planet. Employment.
We help low-income families save money, protect the planet, and support employment all through solar power.
GRID Alternatives Central Valley leads teams of volunteers and job trainees in installing solar electric systems for low-income families living in San Joaquin County to the north through Kern County in the south. Our mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy services, equipment and training.
Central Valley NewsSee all news
- It”s not very often that we have the opportunity to engage communities in a manner that allows us to… Read more
- On February 20 and 21, 2014 Grid Alternatives’ Central Valley office launched educational partnership… Read more
- GRID Alternatives in partnership with Ceres High School’s Manufacturing Production and Green Technology… Read more
- On January 7th, 2014, students from University of Nebraska-Lincoln escaped the sub-zero temperatures… Read more
- On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 15 representatives from SunEdison converged on the City of Lamont located… Read more
- On Saturday, October 26, 2013 Bank of America and Fresno State Construction Management students joined… Read more
- On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, eleven students from Harmony Academy’s Engineering Program participated… Read more
- Representatives of numerous Bank of America branches in and around the Fresno area converged on the home… Read more
- This year was the fourth annual Central Valley Solarthon. This event brought together over one hundred… Read more
A Special Thanks to Honnold
It”s not very often that we have the opportunity to engage communities in a manner that allows us to make unexpected impacts on the lives of families not generally served by GRID Alternatives because of geographical limitations in funding availability. However, on January 21, and again on February 18, 2014 GRID Alternatives’ Central Valley office was able to parlay its generous gift from the Honnold Foundation and leverage rebate opportunities from Turlock Irrigation District in order to make solar a reality for families in the city of Delhi as well as the city of Turlock. In total, the Honnold Foundation will support four installations in the Turlock/Ceres/Modesto area in partnership with GRID Alternatives, TID, and Ceres High School whose students volunteer on GRID installations as part of a formal partnership created with Ceres High. These talented students provide the labor needed to complete the projects.
The practical implication of this generous support is that through the strategic use of resources dedicated to helping the Central Valley provided by Honnold, GRID is able to help families save $168,000 on monthly electrical utility bills (amount calculated over the lifespan of the installed systems), provide “Classroom on the Roof” experience to students of Ceres High School’s Green Technology and Manufacturing Academy, and reduce 528 tons of greenhouse gases in the air we breathe. GRID Alternatives would like to extend a warm thanks to the Alex Honnold Foundation that provided the impetus in making these installations a reality.
Looking to the immediate future, GRID will complete installations in March/April of this year and looks forward to additional opportunities in serving families of the Central Valley in a manner that is consistent with GRID’S mission of helping communities in need with renewable energy, energy services, equipment and training. From the staff and leadership at GRID Alternatives Central Valley office, thank you for your generous support.
GRID Launches South Valley Educational Partnerships
On February 20 and 21, 2014 Grid Alternatives’ Central Valley office launched educational partnership activities with two Kern High School District Schools; Independence High School and South High Schools. GRID and Kern High School District entered into a formal partnership on February 20, 2014 through execution of a Memorandum of Understanding delineating their partnership. Student teams representing both Independence and South High Schools collaborated with GRID Alternatives construction supervisors and team leaders in installing two 3 Kilowatt systems in the city of Lamont. Students were taught the basics of solar installation utilizing GRID’s “Classroom on the Roof” model of learning. In all, 22 students participated in the two day installations.
Tom Esqueda, Regional Director for GRID’s Central Valley office stated that, “GRID Alternatives is committed to working hand in hand with local school districts to provide training and educational experiences for high school students interested in pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math”. He further stated that, “investing in training opportunities for tomorrow’s industry leaders makes great sense and helps build a well-trained technically savvy work force for our region. It doesn’t get much better than that”.
Click here to see news coverage of both High Schools in action.
GRID Completes Second Insallation with Ceres High School
GRID Alternatives in partnership with Ceres High School’s Manufacturing Production and Green Technology Academy completed their second installation for the 2013/2014 academic year. Eleven students from Ceres High School joined GRID’s solar installation team to complete a two day installation in the City of Turlock. Students had the opportunity to work hand in hand with GRID Alternatives’ professional installers to learn basics of solar installation and how this non-polluting technology is helping Turlock families save money on their electrical utility bills while helping clean the air at the same time. Students had the opportunity to install solar racking, photovoltaic panels, an electrical inverter and all associated electrical wiring, including electrical interconnections. GRID Alternatives also received assistance from Turlock Irrigation District in helping defray a portion of the costs associated with the installation through their in-house rebate program. Opportunities such as these help GRID Alternatives meld its passion for solar with the energy of students wanting to experience the practical application of solar installation in a real world work environment.
Nebraska Students Escape Polar Vortex to Install Solar
On January 7th, 2014, students from University of Nebraska-Lincoln escaped the sub-zero temperatures of the recent Polar Vortex to enjoy two days of mild Goshen, California temperatures installing solar with GRID. The 26 students were part of the UNL Alternative Service Break Program, which aims to expose students to issues within different communities and immersing them in hands on experience to facilitate solutions. The group marveled at the diversity they saw in California, but were a diverse group themselves; from undergraduates to recent grads, from international students to a Central Valley native that came home to serve.
Psychology major, David Orozco-Garcia, grew up in Lindsay approximately 30 miles from Goshen stated, “Volunteering gives me the opportunity to travel, help others, and allows me to learn something new about myself.” He went on to say, “I wanted to meet the people I was helping, and GRID gave me that opportunity.”
Yayin Yang, an Actuarial Science major from China, was excited about the hands-on nature of the work. “GRID Alternatives taught us how to use tools,” Yayin said, “and then we used them by ourselves! I like what GRID Alternatives offers and I would like to continue volunteering with them.”
“Our commitment to provide families in need with access to solar technology has never been stronger, and what better way to broaden that commitment than to teach young leaders across the nation the value of our work,” said Tom Esqueda, Central Valley Regional Director. “We feel fortunate that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln chose the Central Valley for their service trip and feel even more fortunate that they chose GRID Alternatives as a partner.”
Our work provides triple bottom line benefits to communities we serve: economic relief for low-income families, environmental benefits for our planet, and skills for our volunteers to gain employment in the solar industry. Maybe it’s time to add a fourth in the Central Valley: providing a Polar Vortex-free working environment!
SunEdison Completes 10th Collaborative Install with GRID Alternatives
On Tuesday, November 19, 2013, 15 representatives from SunEdison converged on the City of Lamont located southeast of Bakersfield in the County of Kern. SunEdison partnered with GRID Alternatives to install a solar photovoltaic system on the home of Carlos Cabrera Mejia and his family. Participants enjoyed working as a team with people from other business units to accomplish something different from the work they normally do on a daily basis for SunEdison. Throughout the day participants created the layout and installed solar racks and panels on the roof, and installed the system inverter on site connecting it to the utility meter through electrical conduit and related wiring connections. Maya Biery, Solar Development Program Analyst stated that, “We gained perspective on how solar is installed, and for those of us in other units, we learned more about residential solar”. Overall, the day was extremely productive and GRID staff was exceedingly pleased to have the opportunity to work with such a talented group of industry professionals. This is SunEdison’s 10th install in California with GRID Alternatives. We look forward to future opportunities to partner with SunEdison.
Bank of America and Fresno State Constuction Management Team-Up for Solar
On Saturday, October 26, 2013 Bank of America and Fresno State Construction Management students joined forces and provided an opportunity for the family of Adelaida Lopez de Reyes to reap the benefits of solar on their family’s rooftop. Bank of America provided a generous grant in the amount of $5,000 supporting GRID’s continuing partnership with Lyles School of Engineering, Construction Management Program at California State University, Fresno. This solar installation was the second of two planned projects with construction management students this semester. In total, there were 15 Fresno State volunteers helping on the installation. They worked on system layout, installing rails, panels, inverter, and associated wiring to make the system fully functional. The Lopez de Reyes family is excited to start enjoying the cost savings their solar PV system will provide.
Another interesting fact about this particular installation, is that it also served as the senior project for Camilo Escamilla and Luis Ibarra both Construction Management Seniors at Fresno State who will be completing their studies this December. Both Camilo and Luis helped conduct initial house inspections, worked with GRID construction supervisors learning how to design the system, recruited volunteers, and also helped with installation. Camilo and Luis were engaged throughout the entire process. They plan to provide a presentation to their classmates summarizing their senior project as well as sharing their experiences.
GRID is fortunate to have the opportunity to enjoy partnerships with both Bank of America and Fresno State. We believe it is a winning combination that helps families in need avail themselves of cost saving technology that otherwise would be difficult to obtain without some assistance. We are grateful and would like to thank them each for their support!
Porterville Students Team With GRID Alternatives to Make Solar a Reality
On Tuesday, September 10, 2013, eleven students from Harmony Academy’s Engineering Program participated in the installation of a solar system at the home of Israel and Sylvia Chapa in Porterville, California, a rural community nestled along the Sierra Nevada foothills in eastern Tulare County. Israel Chapa was delighted to host students from the local magnet school and was surprised to learn that 3 of the participating students had already installed two previous systems in collaboration with GRID Alternatives. Israel is looking forward to the electrical utility cost savings his new solar system will provide his family as well as helping the students gain valuable hands-on experience in solar installation.
Melanie Rubalcaba, a senior at Harmony Academy was enjoying her birthday helping install the system’s inverter. Melanie plans to pursue an electrical engineering degree. She hopes to attend either UC Berkeley, UC Davis, or UC Merced next fall in order to pursue her chosen profession. Melanie stated that, “it is exciting to learn of how the circuitry involved in the solar system’s inverter works and how the interconnections allow the system to operate”. “It is fun to install solar and a great hands-on learning experience”. “This is my third installation with GRID”.
Christian Boudreaux, also a senior, hopes to attend Cuesta College, or Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and pursue a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. He plans to work for Boeing as a floor manager and ultimately start his own aerospace related company. Christian also participates in NASA’s Student Launch Project and plans to successfully launch a solid fuel rocket this April in Huntsville, Alabama with a team of students that are designing and building the rocket through their program.
Ruben Alvarez, Porterville Unified’s Workbase Learning Coordinator was pleased to have students participating on the installation. He stated that “students gain practical hands-on experience that reinforces their classroom work, builds critical thinking, teamwork, communications, and math skills”. “We are fortunate to have students of this caliber at Harmony Academy”. The participants average GPA as a group is 3.8, a statistic Mr. Alvarez is extremely proud of and hopes these and similar experiences will help carry each student to greater academic success in the future.
GRID Alternatives Central Valley office has many such educational partnerships with high schools, junior colleges, and 4 year colleges and universities between Stockton and Bakersfield. Tom Esqueda, Regional Director, GRID Alternatives said that, “the beauty of our work is that GRID helps families save money, provides valuable work experience and educational learning opportunities for students that also improves air quality in communities we serve”. “It’s a win-win for everyone”.
Bank of America volunteers install solar in Clovis
On Saturday, July 27, 2013, representatives of numerous Bank of America branches in and around the Fresno area including Bank of America branches located in Kerman, West Fresno, Manchester, and the bank’s call center converged on the home of the Yang family in Clovis, California to install a solar system on the family’s rooftop. Bank of America is a collaborative partner and supporter of GRID Alternatives, Central Valley office and has now completed two such installation projects in conjunction with GRID.
Tom Esqueda, GRID’s Central Valley, Regional Director, stated, “We are extremely fortunate in that over the last several years, Bank of America has supported our efforts in providing solar energy to families in this region through their generous financial support, rooftop volunteers, and enthusiasm.”
Bank of America provided a crew of 9 employee volunteers, including special guest Stephone Paige, former NFL player with the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. As always, GRID’s mission of empowering communities in need with renewable energy, energy services, equipment and training continues at the forefront of our work and for that, we can all be proud. Thank you Bank of America!!
This year was the fourth annual Central Valley Solarthon. This event brought together over one hundred corporate employee volunteers, job trainees, community volunteers, and the homeowners themselves to install clean renewable solar energy for 10 families.
The event commenced with Chan Neptune leading the star spangled banner and Pastor Emzy Cope leading an invocation. Shortly after, breakfast was prepared by the 10 recipient families and served to over one hundred volunteers!
The Saephan was one of the families that helped prepare breakfast for the volunteers. The family shared how the benefits of solar would help them overcome financial challenges. “The cost savings of solar will give us the ability to purchase eye glasses and dental coverage for our family, while using a technology that it’s better for the earth and our health, said Sengfin Saephan, a family of four.”
A team of construction management students at Fresno State volunteered and gained hands on experience, while reinforcing classroom education.“This volunteer experience helped me use the knowledge that I have attained in class and apply it to practical use,” said construction management student, Nicholas Jarero. Construction management student Vanessa Montano said, “Instead of graduating with only classroom instruction and very little experience, I am able to gain hands on experience in my field of study while helping a family in need.” Hundreds of volunteers from job training organizations, educational institutions, and corporations volunteered and learned to install solar at Solarthon.
The collaborative effort of our staff, volunteers, and sponsors had the following impact in a single day: 30 kW of clean renewable energy installed, $280,243 in total savings for families over the systems’ lifetimes, 879 tons of greenhouse gas emissions prevented over the systems’ lifetimes equivalent to planting 20,673 trees!
We’d like to thank everyone who came out on Saturday including- GRID Alternatives official module providers SunPower and Yingli Solar, statewide sponsors Wells Fargo and Wal-Mart; Gigawatt sponsor Lifestyle Solar; Megawatt sponsors Central Valley Opportunities Center (CVOC), Proteus, Schneider Electric, and Wal-Mart; and our community volunteers and guest speakers.