When Richmond-resident Kirk Essler first heard about GRID in the local newspaper, he thought that solar at no cost for income-qualified families just sounded too good to be true. “I knew my house was perfect for solar,” he explained, “…but if something sounds like such a good deal, you have to be cautious. But I went ahead and applied – I had nothing to lose.”
Little did he know, Mr. Essler would be the 165th client installed through a thriving solar partnership in Richmond between GRID Alternatives, the City of Richmond and MCE, a green energy provider who has been supporting GRID for 3 years. Despite a reputation that includes high crime and poverty rates, the City of Richmond is quickly becoming a model for urban transformation. In addition, the city has also been a leader in deploying renewable energy, offsetting the environmental and health impacts of heavy industrial activities in their community, which have historically have led to high rates of respiratory disease and other ailments.
The partnership that helped Mr. Essler get his no-cost solar system installed is yet another way this community is going one step further. “The commitments from the City of Richmond and the partnership with MCE are making sure that Richmond doesn’t just deploy solar, it includes everyone in its renewable energy transformation,” shared Renee Sharp, Bay Area Regional Director for GRID Alternatives.
At his jobsite, Mr. Essler welcomed a group of all-women job trainees who served as the installation crew. In addition to solar for low-income families, these partners are helping bring job training and hand-on skill-building to help those looking for work join the growing solar industry.
What does that mean for Mr. Essler and the other 168 families served in Richmond? For many families, solar will save them over $20,000 over the systems’ lifetimes. That’s a lot of cost savings, all while bringing a clean renewable energy source into communities that might not otherwise see it. As Mr. Essler explained, “Well – when it all happened, it just felt great!”