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We help low-income families save money, protect the planet, and support employment all through solar power.Learn more
GRID Alternatives helps low-income families save money while bringing clean solar energy onto the grid, and providing volunteers and job seekers with hands-on experience in solar. Since 2011, we've been helping families go solar throughout northern California. Find out how you can get involved!
North Valley NewsSee all news
- Voluntourism, or a volunteer vacation, is a growing trend. Many college students are jumping on board… Read more
- PG&E is a big supporter of solar energy. This March PG&E is planning on celebrate its 100,000th rooftop… Read more
- The Hernandez family is just one of 21 families in the city of Orland that have received their solar… Read more
- Living out each day with a life-threatening illness is a miracle. But for 3 year old Tamara's parents,… Read more
- Every day at GRID Alternatives we work to provide hands-on training for those interested in working in… Read more
- This November in Woodland, more than a dozen high school and college students worked together to install… Read more
- GRID Alternatives is bringing energy education into the classroom, and students into the field, across… Read more
- Rich Gordon is one of those volunteers that every non-profit hopes to have. He is dedicated, passionate,… Read more
- Crystal and William Brady of Oroville, CA are the proud new owners of a solar system thanks to GRID Alternatives,… Read more
Solar Spring Break in the North Valley!
Voluntourism, or a volunteer vacation, is a growing trend. Many college students are jumping on board with enthusiasm during Spring Break to try out Alternative Spring Break opportunities offered by organizations around the world. This year, GRID Alternatives teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to offer "Solar Spring Break" to five student groups visiting California and Colorado to volunteer their time installing solar systems for low income homeowners.
Last week California State University, Chico students joined the GRID Alternatives North Valley office at two installs in Hamilton City and Chico. Shayla Ramos, Event Coordinator for Net Impact, organized the students. Most of the students have learned about solar technology in their classes, but none have had the opportunity to work directly with solar energy systems. It was a week full of educational opportunities that the students eagerly tackled.
The first install in Hamilton City was for the Urrutia family where the head of the household is a volunteer firefighter struggling to make ends meet. The students installed 14 solar panels for the family while learning how to measure the rails the panels are mounted on, wire the electrical systems, install the mounting system on the roof, and bolt down the panels.
The second system for the Meza Zepeda family was the eleventh and final house in a small cul-de-sac in Chico to get a solar system. After long complications, they were finally able to close escrow on their new home and qualify for GRID Alternatives' solar program. The students put their new solar installation skills to good use installing 10 solar panels in record time, finishing early on the final day.
Make a donation directly to GRID Alternatives through the student's fundraising website, and show your support for their volunteerism, and help them continue to raise funds for our program. Net Impact is a sustainable business organization at Chico State where students can learn about "green" careers in a variety of different industries.
For more information on how to participate in Solar Spring Break 2015, contact Becca Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org
PG&E Partnership Supports Solar Energy and Job Training
PG&E is a big supporter of solar energy. This March PG&E is planning on celebrate its 100,000th rooftop solar installation! On Thursday February 20th, a team of PG&E employee volunteers joined GRID Alternatives staff to install 17 solar panels for a local low-income family in Yuba City, CA. “A big part of our effort here reflects the commitment we have to our community,” said Paul Moreno, a PG&E spokesperson. “We’re supportive of renewable energy.”
Joining the PG&E employee volunteers were three paid job trainees on a one-year program to learn job skills in solar installation and lead teams of volunteers. “The PG&E Fellowship program is a great way we can provide these rare, paid training opportunities in solar,” says Bob Gragson, Regional Director at GRID Alternatives. This is the second year in a row PG&E has helped to provide fellowships in solar job training.
One of those fellows is 19 year old Kaly Moore. She is one of six PG&E Solar Fellows across the state, and the youngest. She helps lead other youth, job trainees, and community volunteers as she learns. Kaly is the first in her family to graduate High School and has already worked with the California Conservation Corps and Youth For Change, a youth services group.
Since beginning her fellowship with GRID five months ago, Kaly has spent more than 700 hours learning everything about solar installation, from design, to site inspections, installation, and leading crews of volunteers. When it comes to volunteers, she has been an instrumental part of the training of nearly 100 volunteers, including leading a study group for the NABCEP Solar board exam.
PG&E’s support of solar and solar job training is making a big difference. Not only in the community where thousands of local families have a chance to get solar, but in the lives of job trainees, and the volunteers who the trainees are working with.
For more information on sponsoring fellowship opportunities with GRID Alternatives, contact Rebekah Casey at email@example.com.
Optimism for Orland
“I think it’s going to help with the neighbors that don’t have it yet,” answered Eligio Hernandez, homeowner and father of three, when asked how he thinks his new solar installation will benefit his community. Hernandez already has several close neighbors that have taken advantage of GRID Alternatives’ program. He believes that those that haven’t, will become interested as they see more and more solar installed.
Like many others, Eligio and Maria Hernandez thought there had to be a “catch”. They began their research after receiving a letter in the mail explaining GRID services and speaking with a neighbor about his, now, incredible low electricity bill, courtesy of his solar panel system.
The Hernandez family is just one of 21 families in the city of Orland that have received their solar systems from GRID Alternatives, totaling 94 beneficiaries. GRID Alternatives-North Valley takes great pride in assisting in the betterment of one of its closest neighboring cities. In whole, these Orland families are expected to save more than $600,000 over the lifetime of their systems. Nearly half of these families are extremely low income, less than 30% AMI. Savings like this can be expected to dramatically benefit the livelihood of families, as well as the rest of community. These savings mean that money will likely be reinvested into the local community; businesses and schools. Beyond the bottom line, helping families stay secure improves overall wellbeing.
Aside from savings, Orland participants are making an extremely positive impact on the environment. The 66 kW of solar installed amongst the 21 homes is expected to eliminate 1,934 tons of greenhouse gasses over the system’s lifetime. To conceptualize, this is equivalent to removing 344 cars from the road for 1 year or planting 45,480 trees.
Everyday Makings of a Miracle
At 3 years of age, every day of Tamara Herrera's life is evidence of miracles. Her doctors declared at 6 weeks of age, the damage from a brain hemorrhage at birth was so severe they expected Tamara to be in a vegetative state. Today, Tamara’s neurologist agrees she is a little miracle, and is exceeding the doctors’ expectations for her quality of life.
Every parent deeply cares for the health of their child. For Tamara’s family, that has meant staying by her side through more than a dozen surgeries and hospitalizations, and even more medical procedures and appointments. “When she is in the hospital, we never leave her alone,” says her mother Jackeline Vallejo. “One of us is always with her to make sure she is not scared and has what she needs.”
Each day when Tamara can play with her 5 year old brother Pablo, and it is indeed the making of miracles. Each day is also a lifelong commitment to sustaining her medical equipment, and electric bills. Even with electric medical discounts from the Roseville Utility, the family's utility costs are as high as $350 a month.
For GRID Alternatives, solar for the Herrera-Vallejo family is an opportunity give a family a much needed measure of security. Solar can help ease the family's monthly financial burdens, saving them about 75% of their annual electricity bill. Solar can help them to continue to focus on making miracles happen, every day.
Join GRID Alternatives in providing long-lasting support for the Herrera-Vallejo family, and for the many households caring for disabled family members that we will serve in 2014. Please click here to contact us or call 530-217-6146 to find out how you can help sponsor a solar system in the North Valley, volunteer on an install, or otherwise further GRID's impact in your community, today.
SolarCorp Staff gets Ongoing Education Opportunities
Every day at GRID Alternatives we work to provide hands-on training for those interested in working in the solar energy field. The commitment to teaching is not only for our volunteers, but also for our SolarCorps Fellows, individuals who spend a year in service with GRID Alternatives in exchange for learning opportunities that will help jump-start their careers. This year, construction fellows Kaly Moore and Jenka Terentieva, and Volunteer Coordinator Alex Volzer from the North Valley regional office, joined a dozen other GRID Alternatives fellows from around the state to camp in yurts and spend five days learning about sustainability and renewable energy at the Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA.
The Solar Living Institute manages a 12-acre renewable energy and sustainable living demonstration site that offers alternative energy fueling stations, organic gardens, sustainable architecture, and workshops and courses on solar energy. Fellows spent the first few days learning the fundamentals of electricity and system design, and the second half of the week getting hands-on installation skills in both battery based and grid-tied solar systems.
The 40 hour course allows SolarCorp fellows to learn more about the technical details of solar installation and design, and prepares them for the NABCEP installers exam. For the construction fellows, it means a deeper understanding of their day-to-day work. For the volunteer training fellows, it means being able to provide a more comprehensive volunteer training and orientation, and being able to address the many questions asked by interested volunteers, job trainees and supporters. And for everyone, it was a great chance to bond as a team. For SolarCorp job openings, visit www.gridalternatives.org/jobs.
Woodland Students Install Solar Energy System
This November in Woodland, more than a dozen high school and college students worked together to install solar for a local elderly woman. This is the first of a number of installs in Yolo County that will engage youth in energy service learning projects in their community, thanks to the support of a number of local governments, Yolo County Office of Education and Woodland Community College.
The partnership pairs GRID Alternatives' mission to provide utility savings to low income families, with the Office of Education's Project SOLAR, an initiative to bring real-world applications and hands-on experience to students in alternative energy technology, and the College's program to provide professional development for STEM students.
"GRIDs projects not only build on classroom education for students, but show students the value of their contributions" says Rebekah Casey, GRID Alternatives North Valley Development Officer.
We want every aspiring young STEM professional to have the opportunity for meaningful exposure to the growing energy industry, through service. The North Valley is currently seeking sponsor and supporters to serve more students, and more families in Yolo County. You can support our work by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Youth Get Energy Education
The U.S. is expected to have more than 1.2 million job openings in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related occupations by 2018. To prepare local youth for science-related careers, GRID Alternatives brings energy education into the classroom, and students out into the field to learn about energy technology.
California is expected to lead the nation with the greatest number of these jobs, and by a large margin. Inspiring youth and giving them exposure to energy careers, GRID is working with a number of high school and college academic programs across the northstate.
Our installations provide meaningful service learning projects to students. Students like William Cortez, whose internship with GRID Alternatives, funded by a grant through Constellation, has given him an edge on his studies. "GRID Alternatives has given me a real grasp of how circuits work," William says. With our academic partners, students can learn about the basics of solar technology, and work alongside professionals to help install solar for a local family in need. The projects provide students real-world experience in energy technology, help to deepen student's their awareness of STEM careers and build core competencies.
In 2013, our North Valley academic partners include groups like Yolo County Office of Education, and Woodland and Butte Community College MESA (Math Engineering and Science Achievement) programs, and Sierra College. Local funding from City of Woodland and City of Davis is providing support for our Yolo County education program. Our Butte County program is currently supported through an education grant from Constellation.
GRID Alternatives' program energizes youth and empowers them to bring the benefits of solar technology to communities in need. Interested in working with or supporting our academic enrichment projects in the North Valley? Contact us today!
Rich Gordon is one of those volunteers that every non-profit hopes to have. He is dedicated, passionate, and volunteers.... a LOT. In fact, in just over a year, he has put in over 450 hours of volunteer time, including time at two Solarthons and becoming the star Team Leader in the GRID Alternatives North Valley office.
Last July, Rich saw a call for volunteers in an ad in a local newspaper. He liked the idea of what we are doing and thought it would be interesting, especially since he has a career in electrical work but had never worked in solar before. After a few weeks he was hooked. According to Rich, "I love the camaraderie and hanging out with the other volunteers and getting the job done. To be able to give back and change peoples lives is just great."
It didn't take long for Rich to become a Team Leader, which means that he has demonstrated not only that he has mastered a set of 17 skills but can teach them too. Despite being able to do it all, it is quite common to find Rich in his bright orange Team Leader t-shirt by the electrical box and inverter, teaching others about how to wire it up.
Throughout his time here, he has already had quite a few fun and unique opportunities. According to Rich, Solarthon in Chico last year has been the highlight so for. But there has also been some stories to tell, like working in 100+ heat in Redding or experiencing an install in Yuba City with a tile roof. Just a few weeks ago, Rich also joined us in Rocklin as an honorary staff member for Solarthon 2013 where he took charge of the central inverters at three of the four houses. Rich has been there with a big smile and enthusiasm, easy to get along with nature, and as a great Team Leader.
Thanks Rich for all you do!
Beyond Conservation and Efficiency
Crystal and William Brady of Oroville, CA are the proud new owners of a solar system thanks to GRID Alternatives, a team of local volunteers, and a helpful friend.
Energy has been a big topic in the Brady household. While Crystal Brady is a stay at home mom of three, William Brady works hard for the Community Action Agency of Butte County leading eight teams to install energy efficiency and weatherization measures for other low-income households. Needless to say, the Brady’s are energy efficient and conservative with energy use at home, but their utility costs are still very high. William has dreamed of adding solar to their home, but the cost was too prohibitive. After a friend received a solar system with GRID Alternatives, the Brady’s looked into it for themselves.
The Brady’s wanted to go solar for the same reason many of the other GRID homeowners wish to go solar: To help the environment while having a little more money at the end of each month. “Its a great program, and it’s wonderful that its available to others in this community!” said Crystal. “Now all of our neighbors are wondering how to get one.”
The Brady’s new 22 panel system will save them $47,268 over the life of the systems, and divert 148 tons of greenhouse gases from being released into the atmosphere! That is equivalent to taking 26 cars off the road for a year and planting more than 3490 trees!