WE Build Community Solar!


September 21, 2016

In September, a group of 50 women from around the country joined GRID Alternatives Colorado for GRID’s first-ever WE Build retreat. Over two days of camping and comradery, the women installed 200 panels on a low-income community solar array in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The project, a partnership with Yampa Valley Electric Association, is one of 5-10 low-income community solar projects totalling an estimated 1MW that GRID Colorado is building in partnership with local utilities through a pilot project with the Colorado Energy Office. The following guest post was written by Grace Brown, a participant in the WE Build retreat.

As we warmed ourselves by the fire on a crisp Saturday morning, the misty lake at Stagecoach State Park glowed yellow. The women of WE Build were preparing ourselves for a volunteer workday in Steamboat Springs. We headed out for the 148 kW array at Yampa Valley Electric Association, where we filled up on breakfast and coffee to charge us up for the day.

Throughout the weekend, I found myself continually impressed by the company I was in. Engineers, green project developers, Yampa Valley’s CEO, and even a local Girl Scout troop all came to work toward two common goals: bringing clean, affordable power to local residents, and empowering women to join and thrive in the solar industry.

Having a passion for solar and energy policy, I joined the WE Build planning gommittee several months ago to help plan the WE Build retreat. But mainly, I wanted to be a part of the retreat in hopes of making valuable connections and meet others with similar interests. As a newcomer to the Colorado solar industry, I was grateful for the opportunity to meet so many women who genuinely want to help connect me with industry leaders and support me on the journey to reach my career goals. It can sometimes feel daunting to break into a new scene and network with new people, but the comradery that the women shared over the weekend was inspiring, encouraging, and exciting.

I really enjoyed the hands-on work on the solar array. Getting out with the team of 50 women to install 200 solar panels was an enriching way to spend the weekend, further developing my love of this industry. I had an absolute blast, and I’m already looking forward to the next WE Build!