By Shyla Black, Multifamily & Commercial Solar Program Coordinator
Here in Chico where I sit working from home the Dixie Fire rages. Currently, it has burned more than 722,000 acres and it is only 40% contained. The smoke outside has turned the sky white and my dog keeps looking up at me bored and morose. She knows something is wrong, she can smell it, but though she seems worried she still needs to run - but being outside gets unpleasant after a short time, so we do what we can inside.
The temporary loss of blue sky doesn’t compare to what small mountain communities like Paradise, Concow, Yankee Hill, Cherokee, and Berry Creek have lost. The list grows this year to include the towns of Greenvillle and areas of Colfax. Rebuilding is another new norm that is incredibly challenging on so many levels. Equally as challenging is securing funding that covers the rebuilds and the incredible labor it takes to complete them. On top of that, the increasing costs of lumber, steel, and many back-ordered items due to the pandemic and associated decrease in manufacturing. We also can’t forget the high demand for skilled workers in construction, contracting, electrical work, concrete, HVAC - the list goes on.
However, there is an upside to rebuilding. We have the opportunity to re-envision our future. The future of our places and how they operate, what they provide, and how they can impact our way of life. We have the opportunity to ask “What do we want our community to look like, function as, and provide for everyone.” Even though the shortages and roadblocks exist, so too does the possibility for regeneration if we are willing to commit to it.
With that said, I am very excited to share that we are almost completely finished with our installation on Paradise Community Village (PCV), a multifamily affordable housing community that was destroyed in 2018 in the Camp Fire. Our construction team here at GRID Alternatives North Valley has installed a 30 kW system that will power 11 buildings and serve 36 families by providing clean, affordable energy.
The families served by PCV will be seniors, people returning to Paradise after displacement from the Camp Fire; and new folks from the surrounding areas in need of an affordable place to live. This is one of the new multifamily complexes being built in Paradise. With new infrastructure, the city’s septic system will be able to handle a larger capacity for multi-unit structures. This opens up the possibility to build more housing while taking up less space. This also means less building in the wildland-urban interface - meaning, a lower threat of the destruction of homes happening again.
This is a point of celebration. Of renewal. Of regeneration. With the release of more funding in the county, we will partner with developers in the area to realize the vision of all new multifamily construction as sustainable, energy-efficient, and resilient.
Welcome to this blog series by our own Shyla Black, Multi-family & Commercial Solar Program Coordinator, diving into the impact of GRID’s work for renters in multifamily developments and nonprofit organizations. For more information on receiving solar for your multi-family property or non-profit building with GRID Alternatives, email Shyla Black at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time to talk about your options.