People. Planet. Employment.
We help low-income families save money, protect the planet, and support employment all through solar power.
Solarthon takes over the LBC
Long Beach is a leading port for much of the world's shipping to America and now we're trying to make it a leading city in providing clean renewable solar power to its residents.Read more
GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles helps low-income families save money and provides community volunteers and job seekers with hands-on experience installing solar electric systems in local neighborhoods. Since 2007, we’ve helped over 550 low-income families go solar throughout Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties.
News in Greater LASee all news
- GRID had a great day in Long Beach on Saturday, Sept. 21st when more than 175 volunteers— individual… Read more
- California Governor Jerry Brown visited a GRID Alternatives installation at the Long Beach home of Maribel… Read more
- GRID Alternatives launched its nonprofit solar installation and solar jobs training program in the Antelope… Read more
- With the support of Angeleno Group, a Los Angeles-based clean energy and natural resources investor,… Read more
- (Left; volunteers make solar happen for the Brown family of Compton) As we look forward to Earth Day… Read more
- In February, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles completed its eighth and final solar installation… Read more
- Luis Aguilera is a highly skilled carpenter who has been unable to work after sustaining injuries to… Read more
- Thanks to our homeowners, volunteers, sponsors, and donors, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles had… Read more
- Los Angeles is increasingly becoming a clean technology hub, but for South Los Angeles residents, who… Read more
Solarthon takes over the LBC
GRID had a great day in Long Beach on Saturday, Sept. 21st when more than 175 volunteers— individual sponsors, corporate teams, job trainees and homeowners themselves— came out to install solar electric systems on nine homes for our fourth annual Greater Los Angeles Solarthon. Event highlights included receiving a certificate honoring Greater LA's fourth annual Solarthon from Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal; a special presentation made by the Board of Directors to GLA's departing Executive Director, Susie Chang, as she moves on to her next chapter at GRID, working to expand our services onto tribal lands and explore international opportunities; musical performances by graduates of Garfield Elementary School and tacos for all from local favorite Patricia's.
GRID has made a real impact in the LBC. We've installed for 65 families and we plan to keep on greening this port city; house by house, family by family. "I wanted to take a step towards clean energy and eliminating the use of dirty energy and its production," said Armando Lomeli, whose eight person household received a 2.8kW solar electric system at Solarthon. "We are from a humble family, and we are grateful to the sponsors. Our financial situation is tough but this program will help us tremendously."
It's not only the homeowners who benefit from our program, but volunteers and green job trainees as well. "I would like to thank GRID Alternatives for giving me the opportunity to be a part of an awesome organization," said Melvone Garrett, a Homeboy Industries student who is taking classes at East Los Angeles Skills Center. "Today I've had the opportunity to share my experiences, help educate others, and collaborate with the community sponsors and employers in making the world a better place one module at a time."
Check out our social media feed to get a feel for the event!
Gov. Brown Visits GRID Install
Governor Jerry Brown visited Long Beach on Friday, May 17 to observe the site where homeowners Maribel and Jose Mendoza and their four boys will soon reap the benefits of solar power. Their new 4.3kW system, installed with the help of job trainees from Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), is the sixth GRID Alternatives installation on the block!
The visit was a chance for the Governor and other officials to see first-hand how California’s Single-Family Affordable Homes (SASH) program, managed by GRID, is helping underserved communities across the state. The Mendozas will save up to 90 percent on their electricity bill, savings they plan to use toward their children’s schooling.
“GRID Alternatives helps low income people be part of the solar revolution,” said the Governor, who spoke to a crowd of GRID supporters and media. Other speakers included Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, Assembly Member Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), co-author of a bill to extend the SASH program, and Hector de la Torre of the California Air Resources Board.
GRID Alternatives has installed solar for more than 3400 families like the Mendozas to-date, while training more than 11,700 volunteers and job trainees in the basics of solar PV installation.
“We are so thankful for the chance to not only save money for our kids,” said Maribel Mendoza, “but also leave them a cleaner environment.”
To view pictures from the event, view the photo album here!
GRID Alternatives in the Antelope Valley
GRID Alternatives launched its nonprofit solar installation and solar jobs training program in the Antelope Valley in partnership with the City of Palmdale, the University of Antelope Valley, and a SunPower sponsor team. On Thursday May 16th, GRID completed two solar electric installations for Palmdale low-income homeowners, Marsha Furman, and Cynthia and Benjamin Leh (read the KCET ReWire article on the installations here).
Marsha Furman is a widow relying on her social security to get by. As a very low-income homeowner, she appreciates any assistance in meeting her monthly bills, but the solar electric system GRID installed, combined with GRID’s recommended energy efficiency measures, can reduce her energy costs by nearly 100%.
Students from the University of Antelope Valley’s Sustainable Energy program came out and installed Ms. Furman’s system alongside their class instructor and a GRID Alternatives Solar Installation Supervisor. Robert Heath, an Antelope Valley student who participated on the install, told the Antelope Valley Times, that the hands-on experience he was getting with GRID was critical. “You can read about it and do the book work, but you have to actually do it to learn it.” Robert got in to solar “because it’s a growing industry and Lancaster is going to be the solar capital of the country.”
One major force behind this solar growth in the Antelope Valley is SunPower, who developed and is currently the contractor for the largest PV solar development in the world. SunPower has worked with GRID Alternatives since 2006 and earlier this year, pledged to provide its high-efficiency solar panels through a combination of donations and fair market value sales to support GRID's work in underserved communities. This new phase of the ongoing philanthropic partnership is projected to generate approximately $4.8 million in energy savings for low-income families throughout the lifetime of the systems.
A volunteer team from SunPower’s Lancaster area offices came out to help install solar for the Leh family, many of whom had never had the opportunity to get out of the office and work with their own modules in the field, and all of whom enjoyed the opportunity to work together and use renewable energy to support a local family in need (view more photos here).
Also a very low-income family, Benjamin Leh is disabled and has been confined to a wheelchair following a stroke and Cynthia is his full-time caregiver. The Leh’s struggle every month to meet their expenses and look forward to their energy cost savings, most especially during the hot summer months.
Throughout the Antelope Valley, heat-related illness and death is a major health threat for elderly community members and for those with pre-existing health conditions, but local low-income families typically cannot afford critical cooling strategies like air-conditioning. The clean affordable power that these solar electric systems will generate will allow Marsha Furman and the Leh’s to protect their health in the coming summer while reducing the greenhouse gasses that contribute to higher temperatures, supporting economic and environmental sustainability for the region's most vulnerable families.
Mother's Day in South LA
With the support of Angeleno Group, a Los Angeles-based clean energy and natural resources investor, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles celebrated Mother's Day a little early with the gift of solar power for a family in need, reducing pollution for Mother Earth and reducing energy costs for a local Mom.
Tyja Williams, a proud mother of two, is raising her children in the same Willowbrook neighborhood she was raised in and her parents still live just down the block. Her 20-year-old son wants to be a sports agent and her 12-year-old daughter, a cheerleading champion, dreams of becoming a veterinarian. Tyja is faced with high monthly bills and worries she may not be able to meet her daughter’s education expenses.
On Friday, May 3, GRID Alternatives, together with the philanthropic and volunteer support of Angeleno Group, installed a solar system for Tyja that will reduce her energy bills and enable her to start saving money immediately to invest in her daughter’s future. Tyja and her family knew very little about solar power before GRID came to her door. She now believes it is a wonderful way to combat the pollution that affects her city and in fact her 4.2KW solar system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 123 tons, the equivalent of planting over 2,800 trees. In addition to these environmental benefits, Tyja is looking forward to substantial cost savings: her solar system is projected to save up to $45,000 in energy costs over its lifetime. Tyja plans to use these savings to support her daughter’s college education.
“We are proud that Angeleno Group was able to partner with GRID Alternatives to support the continued installation of much needed renewable power generation in this community,” said Yaniv Tepper, an Angeleno Group Managing Partner. “This team-building solar project gave Angeleno Group the opportunity to work alongside a motivated crew of volunteer installation trainees, many of whom will have the opportunity to become certified solar installers serving the rapidly growing residential solar market.”
The Williams family installation was the 41st installation for low-income families in the Willowbrook neighborhood and one of over 3,000 throughout the state. Angeleno Group, based in Los Angeles, provides growth capital for next generation clean energy and natural resources companies globally. By sponsoring the Williams family installation and coming out to brave one of the first of many hot days of LA’s summer to help get their system up and running, the firm has made a tangible contribution to a local family’s “next generation.”
Celebrate Mother Earth and your own Mom with a donation in her honor to GRID Alternatives and happy Mother's Day from all of us at GRID!
Celebrating Earth Day in Greater LA
(Left; volunteers make solar happen for the Brown family of Compton)
As we look forward to Earth Day 2013 on Monday April 22nd, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles will be a participating nonprofit at the Los Angeles Business Council’s (LABC) Annual Sustainability Summit this Friday, April 19th. This year’s event is particularly exciting, with LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa delivering the keynote and a number of other inspiring leaders joining in as speakers and panelists including CA Senator Fran Pavley and Senator Kevin de Leon, Tom Steyer, Director of the Center for the Next Generation, Ron Nichols, the General Manager for LA’s Department of Water and Power, and LA City Council Member Jose Huizar. You can learn more about the event here.
There are so many critical sustainability issues to be aware of and many different ways to get out and celebrate Earth Day, but this day has a special meaning in urban low-income communities where trees are few, pollution is high, and summers are hot and getting hotter.
A UCLA climate report released in 2012, “Midcentury Warming in the Los Angeles Area” found that the number of “extremely hot” days will triple in downtown Los Angeles and quadruple in surrounding mountain and valley areas and anticipates “more frequent heat waves.” For families living in low-income communities where tree-cover is scarce and heat-trapping building materials are typically used, higher temperatures are a significant health threat. Yet, given their limited incomes, these families are much less likely to be able to afford air conditioning, leaving them much more vulnerable to heat-related illness and death.
Solar is a perfect solution for these families and can help them maintain a healthy temperature in their homes without burning the fossil fuels that ultimately only contribute to the warming trend. To date, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles has made clean affordable solar power a reality for 470 low-income families living in some of the most polluted neighborhoods in the country, where communities are struggling with high monthly energy costs while facing high rates of unemployment and foreclosure. 60 of those solar projects were installed for families living in the South Central Los Angeles area, including the Watts and Willowbrook neighborhoods, and 19 were in Compton. The unemployment rate in Compton is over 17%, dramatically higher than the LA County average of 10%.
To celebrate Earth Day GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles will be installing two more projects for Compton families. These two projects will reduce energy costs for each of these families by over 90% and will produce nearly 280,000kW of solar energy, reducing over 346,000 lbs of greenhouse gasses throughout their lifetimes.
Please consider making a donation to support these projects this year on Earth Day or sign up for a unique volunteer experience and get out the community and help make difference for a family and help make Earth Day last all year round. Click here to make a donation, and here to learn more about volunteering.
Happy Earth Day from all of us at GRID and wishing you a cleaner, greener, more peaceful planet. If you would like to know how you can get your corporate team involved on a local GRID project, please contact Myshel Prasad, Greater Los Angeles Development Director, for more information at email@example.com
Women helping women go solar
In February, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles completed its eighth and final solar installation project supported by a grant from the William C. Bannerman Foundation. This grant helped support the installation of 26kW of clean solar power for Los Angeles area low-income homeowners, providing over $240,000 worth of affordable energy for the families who need it the most. In addition these projects are reducing greenhouse gasses every day; over their lifetime, they will reduce over 760 tons of CO2, the equivalent of planting almost 18,000 trees. The Bannerman Foundation prioritizes work that supports the environment as well as advancing women’s rights and opportunities so it was especially appropriate to complete our last solar project under this grant with a Women’s Build.
The 2.2 kW solar electric system was installed for Janice Tyler of South Los Angeles. Her eldest daughter Cathy noted that the family was particularly pleased to have an all-women’s install team on the roof. “It’s always been just me and my sister and my Mom, we all took care of each other,” she said. She went on to note that as long as she could remember her mother was always working multiple jobs. The Bannerman supported solar electric system will reduce energy costs for Janice by 99%. At 65, Cathy told us, Janice hopes to retire and the savings from solar will really help her make ends meet, but just being included in the more widespread adoption of solar energy makes her feel more hopeful about the future she will leave for her daughters.
Anna Bautista, the GRID Alternatives’ national Director of Construction, came out to lead this installation herself. There are currently only about 20 women in the state of California who are certified with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners and Anna is one of them. “It's always an honor for me to lead Women's Builds, and this particular install was a real treat for me,” Anna said, after leading her team to safely complete the installation despite some challenging weather conditions. “GRID’s roofs are safe learning spaces but Women's Builds provide an additional empowering place for women to build job skills and more importantly to demonstrate their leadership.”
Michelle Belacic of Solar City took the day off to participate in this installation as well. “I’m always willing to come out and work for a good cause,” she said. Michelle was a dedicated volunteer with GRID and became a Team Leader under our advanced training program and attributes her employment in the solar industry to the skills and expertise she gained from working with GRID. Returning to volunteer with GRID still affords her additional learning opportunities and this install gave her the opportunity to work with conduit bending and expand her already formidable skill set.
Many thanks to all the hard-working women who came out to make solar happen for the Tyler family and to the Bannerman Foundation for helping low-income families like the Tylers meet their monthly expenses. With reduced energy cost burdens for families and access to nontraditional job skills training for women and other under-represented groups in the new green economy, we’re using the benefits of clean solar power to help individuals work towards their personal futures while building a more hopeful and shared economic and environmental future for all of us.
Solar Electric Solutions helps Aguilera family go solar
Luis Aguilera is a highly skilled carpenter who has been unable to work after sustaining injuries to both his shoulder and his knee. He and his wife, who is a pre-school teacher, have lived in their Hawthorne home for years but never imagined they would see solar on their own rooftop. Now, thanks to GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles and the philanthropic support and volunteer efforts of Solar Electric Solutions, the Aguilera family now has enough clean solar power to reduce their energy costs by 95% and eliminate almost 220,000 lbs of CO2 emissions.
Mr. Aguilera is looking forward to investing the money the family will save on their electricity bill into a better life for his three young children, but didn’t know much about solar and energy efficiency before a neighbor told him about GRID Alternatives. After one conversation about GRID’s program, he immediately became interested in how solar worked and what it could do for his family. “Now I really want to learn more about it and about protecting the environment,” he said, and joined the installation team on the roof of his home to learn more about the process.
He and his wife have instilled their passion for learning in his oldest son, 12 year old Louis. Louis attended the Bernard Harris summer science camp at the University of Southern California where he shared his passion for the environment and told staff that his dream was to be a “green person,” a dream he is already living by getting solar on his family home (you can read more about Louis and the summer science camp here). “Now I can play video games without a carbon footprint,” he joked.
GRID’s volunteer based installation model allows us to provide solar for low-income families while giving job trainees an opportunity to get the hands-on installation experience they need on their resumes to get hired by local employers. The system that the Solar Electric Solutions team sponsored and installed for the Aguilera family was a 3.8kW system and getting the 18 SunPower modules to the roof was no small feat, so the Solar Electric Solutions team were joined by a few of GRID’s longtime volunteers and Team Leaders for some extra support. One of them, James Morton, took a break from the install when he received a phone call from CLP, a placement agency that GRID Alternative Greater Los Angeles works very closely with, about a possible job.
The Solar Electric Solutions team included President Freeman Hall, Director of Development David Revelt, and COO Mike Stern, who brought their own unique areas of expertise and perspectives as utility scale solar developers to the project, which was enlightening for both our staff and for our Team Leaders who got a chance to get more information about developing larger projects. Meanwhile, the SES team enjoyed the rare chance to actually get out in the field and experience working directly with the nuts and bolts of the technology itself at a residential scale.
"We greatly enjoyed working with GRID Alternatives and installing a solar system for the Aguilera family,” David Revelt commented, who also serves on the GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles Board of Directors. “It was a fun team building event for our company, and a great way to give back to the community."
Solar New Year for the Perez Family: Mitsubishi in Huntington Beach
Pictured: GRID Alternatives Team Leader Marcos, Mitsubishi volunteer Naoto Shimada, and homewoner Felipe Perez
Thanks to our homeowners, volunteers, sponsors, and donors, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles had a fabulous year in 2012, which we celebrated with what is becoming an end-of-year holiday tradition, a sponsored installation with Mitsubishi Electric!
With the volunteer and philanthropic support of Mitsubishi and the Mitsubishi Electric Foundation, the Perez family of Huntington Beach, who own a home from Habitat for Humanity, wil now see an 83% reduction in their energy costs.
The Perez family moved from Zacatecas Mexico to California 16 years ago. Felipe and Elvia Perez have two children, Oscar and Esau. Felipe works in a Santa Ana factory as a machine operator and Elvia is assistant teacher in a preschool care center in Santa Ana as well. Their oldest son Oscar is a student at the University of California, Irvine, and Esau is in eighth grade.
“I'm feeling emotions very similar to how I felt six years ago when we got the house from Habitat.,” Elvia says. “We were so pleased we could move to a more favorable environment for our children to grow up in. Now we want to thank GRID Alternatives and Mitsubishi for helping us go solar and decrease the cost of electricity because even though we work so hard, we still struggle to afford all these expenses ourselves.”
The Perez family is also proud to be making their own contribution not just to a better environment for their own family but for all families, “We want to thank you also for giving us this opportunity so that we too can contribute to reducing pollution for everyone with our new solar system.”
When asked about how she initially felt about solar, Elvia says, “We had heard about this kind of energy system. But at first we were afraid and wondered how it would works and how much it would cost us and what happens when it is cloudy?" she laughs. “But thanks to GRID we learned how solar works and feel confident in this great benefit for our family and our environment.”
Total Sustainability: Solarthon 2012 in South LA
(Pictured: Solarthon 2012 homeowner, Joyce Cobbs, photo David Schmitz)
Los Angeles is increasingly becoming a clean technology hub, but for South Los Angeles residents, who face severe economic and environmental challenges—high rates of foreclosure, unemployment, and pollution—the benefits of clean energy are typically out of reach. All that changed in one neighborhood on Saturday November 10th, when GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles installed solar electric systems for ten low-income families in the lovely Willowbrook area.
The systems were installed with the help of over 120 community and corporate volunteers and the homeowners themselves as part of GRID Alternatives’ annual Solarthon event, a solar installation marathon and fundraiser celebrating renewable energy and green jobs and access to both for all Californians.
Taken together, the systems are projected to save families almost $300,000 in energy costs over their lifetimes, while preventing over 900 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the equivalent of planting more than 2000 trees. In addition, twenty new homeowners opened their doors and signed up for the program on the 10th as well!
Event day speakers included Roy Jasso of Wells Fargo, Andrea Sanders of Yingli Solar, Ken Button, President of Verengo Solar, and Tina McKinnor, Deputy Chief of Staff and Distrcit Director for Assemblymember Steven Bradford (AD62). Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas could not attend but commented on these remarkable benefits in his Los Angeles County Second Supervisory District.
"Rooftop by rooftop, we are changing the way we live,” he noted. “We are creating not only wonderful new family homes, but also accessing clean, abundant and natural solar power. Every home that Solar Grid installs represents multiple steps - even leaps - in the right direction."
Homeowner Juanita Thompson joined the All-Women's volunteer team assigned to her home and helped install her own solar electric system at Solarthon (see pictures here). Ms Thompson addressed the crowd at Enterprise Park early on Saturday morning as volunteers stretched and sipped coffee, saying, "I just spent $560 on one textbook for my daughter. The savings are really going to help us, and also help the community. And it is going to make us more eco-friendly. ..I really am thankful that this is something I am part of. Thanks to the volunteers and the sponsors. You couldn't have a better organization you are supporting."
Alan Polee is another one of the homeowners who received solar at Solarthon with the help of GRID Cofounder Tim Sears, Board Member Joe Karp, and the Greater Los Angeles Advisory Council (see pictures of the install here). Mr. Polee has lived in this neighborhood for twenty years and dreamed about solar but never thought it was a possibility for his family. “As a father of five I was made more aware of the environment through my children's science projects dealing with greenhouse gases and alternative energy,” he said. “We thought it would be nice to have solar on our home but couldn't afford it. Now we will be able to participate in conserving energy and saving the environment.”
The savings—his energy bills will go down by about 97 percent—will also help him afford air conditioning in a city where African Americans are twice as likely to die in a heat wave than other residents.
The ten homeowners who received solar during this extraordinary and unique event are among more than 2600 statewide that have received systems through GRID Alternatives, bringing the benefits of solar—both jobs and clean energy—to communities that need it most. Much like a walkathon, Solarthon volunteers and individual donors raised over $14,000 for the event through their personal networks, and companies like Yingli Solar, Wells Fargo, SunPower Corp., Verengo Solar, OC Sunny, and InSolar! sponsored homes for employees and executives, while GoGreen Solar and Solar City sponsored with donations and tables at the event.
Job training is a critical part of GRID's work and job trainees and students from Taller San Jose and The Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) also joined the installation teams at Solarthon, networking with potential employers and improving their skills.
Salvador Torres, a solar student at the LATTC who has volunteered on multiple GRID projects, emphasized the immeasurable importance of getting hands-on experience with solar. “Almost every installation is different, and you learn how to troubleshoot and how it all comes together, which you just can’t learn in the classroom,” he said, noting that the experience is also required for certification as an installer. But equally important, his volunteer work with GRID also inspires him. “I just love feeling like I’m helping people out,” he said.
A radiant solar thank you from all of us at GRID Alternatives to our individual Solar Champions and Corporate sponsors for making our Solarthon such a celebratory day, and for helping us make South LA a brighter and more economically and environmentally sustainable place. Support solar in South LA and other local neighborhoods by making a donation now.