About GRID

GRID Alternatives' mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment, and training. GRID Alternatives works collaboratively with communities and local organizations to identify specific needs and to develop renewable energy solutions that are environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable.

What we do

A non-profit solar installer, GRID Alternatives leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar electric systems exclusively for low-income homeowners, providing needed savings for families struggling to make ends meet, preparing workers for jobs in the fast-growing solar industry and reducing carbon emissions. Our core program is the Solar Affordable Housing Program. Since 2004, we have installed more than 12 MW of clean, renewable power for over 4,000 families, preventing the release of 340,000 tons of greenhouse gasses over the systems’ lifetimes and providing more than $110 million in energy cost savings. More than 15,000 volunteers and job trainees have also received hands-on solar installation experience to-date. Explore the People, Planet, Employment links below to learn more about our impact in local communities.


History and vision

GRID Alternatives was founded during the 2001 California energy crisis by Erica Mackie, P.E., and Tim Sears, P.E., two engineering professionals who were implementing large-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for the private sector. The vision that drove them was simple: free, clean electricity from the sun should be available to everyone. Through GRID Alternatives, they developed a model to make solar PV technology practical and accessible for low-income communities that need the savings and jobs the most, yet have the least access. By taking a broader approach to solar as not just an environmental good but also a real-world solution to a real-world economic problem in these communities, GRID Alternatives is helping to set the stage for large-scale solar adoption nationwide.

In 2008, GRID Alternatives was selected by the California Public Utilities Commission to serve as the statewide program manager for its $108 million Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) incentive program, the country’s first dedicated solar rebate for low-income families. Thousands of California homeowners have gone solar through GRID Alternatives under this groundbreaking initiative in partnership with Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, and has integrated workforce development into every project.

Tim and Erica were honored for their work in creating GRID Alternatives in 2010 with a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for advancing "innovative, proven and replicable solutions to critical issues facing California," and in 2012, GRID received the Environmental Protection Agency's Environmental Hero Award-Climate Change Champion for the Pacific Southwest Region.


Where we work

GRID Alternatives is based in Oakland, California and currently has seven dedicated regional offices serving all of California and an office in Denver, CO. To learn more about our work on the ground, visit our regional pages or explore our projects map.