Earth Day marks completion of 56 new solar systems for Bishop Paiute

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April 24, 2017

The Bishop Paiute tribe in Southern California had a lot to celebrate this Earth Day, namely the recent completion of 56 no-cost rooftop solar installations. To mark the occasion, GRID Inland Empire joined the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bishop Paiute Tribe at an Earth Day event to celebrate the completed projects, as well as the benefits they’ll bring to the tribe for generations to come.

GRID leveraged grants from the DOE and the California Public Utilities Commission’s Single-family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH) program to install the solar systems and provide workforce training to tribal members through two phases, beginning in 2015. The completed systems will generate 217 kilowatts of power, saving tribal members up to 90 percent off their typical utility bills, and more than $2,000,000 over the systems’ lifetimes. In addition, 18 tribal members received 725 hours of solar installation workforce training during the two phases of construction.  

“Solar power really helps out, means one less bill to worry about, and is a money saver that helps me take care of my family. With the money we save from solar, I’m planning to expand on our home and do improvements,” said Harlan Dewey, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe who had solar installed and received workforce training through the program. “I started training with GRID at the reservation's first project and became one of the first tribal members to support the GRID program, and I still help out with installations. It makes me feel really good to help my people and to share the program with other tribal members.”

The Bishop Paiute Tribal installations are part of GRID’s larger tribal solar program across 24 tribal communities in Arizona, California, Montana, New York, and South Dakota. The program is funded by more than $1 million in cost-shared grants to the individual tribes from the DOE, Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, which provides technical assistance, training, and funding to tribes across the country.

“Thanks to GRID and the DOE and participating tribal members, the Bishop Tribe has made steady progress toward their goals,” said Mervin Hess, Tribal Administrator, Bishop Paiute Tribe referencing the Tribe’s goal to serve 200 homes, approximately half of the approximately 400 low-income homes, by 2020 with rooftop solar. “The savings from the installations are making a difference, especially for tribal members in the greatest need, and is a step towards becoming more self sufficient.”