Breakthrough solar install in Marin


May 15, 2013

Retired county worker and grandmother Bonnie Campbell had a solar electric system installed on her home in Novato’s Meadow Park yesterday, marking the first time a California homeowners association (HOA) has permitted solar to be installed on a shared roof in an affordable housing development. This breakthrough, won by local non-profits and persistent lobbying by Ms. Campbell and her neighbors, could set the stage for affordable housing residents throughout Marin to access the economic and environmental benefits of solar power.

GRID Alternatives has been trying for years to find ways to reach Marin’s low-income homeowners. But with more than 80 percent of Marin’s affordable housing stock comprised of shared roofs and governed by restrictive homeowners’ covenants, it has been an uphill battle.

“We’ve been able to bring cost-saving solar power to more than 850 families throughout the greater Bay Area since 2004,” said Mary Biasotti, Bay Area Regional Director for GRID Alternatives. “Only two of those systems have been in Marin County.”

Finally in October of 2011, GRID Alternatives teamed up with Strategic Energy Innovations, a non-profit that develops and implements community sustainability programs, to work with Ms. Campbell to overcome these barriers. After 18 months and three HOA  board meetings, the installation was allowed to move forward.

“I am looking forward to seeing my energy consumption go down, seeing the cost savings and supporting my neighbors through a similar process,” said Ms. Campbell. GRID Alternatives plans to install solar for at least five more families in Marin County in the coming year.

Congratulations to Bonnie Campbell for pioneering such an effort! GRID Alternatives would also like to extend our utmost appreciation to those at Strategic Energy Innovations, Marin Community Foundation and the Marin City Community Development Corporation for making this breakthrough possible!