GRID volunteers getting green jobs

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December 17, 2012

You’'re working with a homeowner that’s excited; this may never happen otherwise for them, the workers are excited. It’s a win/win for everyone,"” says volunteer Frank Walters about his volunteer experience with GRID Alternatives. Frank Walters lives in the Los Angeles area, but comes up to the Central Coast frequently to volunteer. He was on GRID Alternatives Central Coast Office’s first install, and now he can proudly say that he “placed the first of nine million panels at Topaz Solar Farm,” a 550 MW solar project under construction on the northwestern corner of the Carrisa Plains.

“Topaz Solar Farm has over 500 people currently working on site constructing the 550 megawatt utility scale solar project which will produce enough energy to power 160,000 homes,” Dawn Legg, First Solar Assistant Project Manager says about the installation. Members from the local community make up a large portion of the workforce at the power plant. Frank is one of three GRID volunteers who recently got hired at the Topaz Solar Farm, along with Josh Carter from Nipomo and John Diaz who recently moved to Atascadero from Santa Barbara.

As a nonprofit solar installer, GRID Alternatives provides a "classroom in the field" where folks can gain hands-on experience in a real-world solar installation environment, while under the supervision and guidance of our experienced, professional solar installation staff. In addition to working directly with formal solar installation training programs, we also provide unemployed or underemployed individuals from the general public with the same training and experiences through our volunteer and team leader programs. Each installation offers our volunteers hands-on installation experience and networking opportunities. For individuals who want to get even more experience and a more comprehensive skill set, we offer a Team Leader program.

“Volunteering looks great on a resume,” Walters says. “When learning the basics of a residential system (solar installation), GRID is the best way to go!”