GRID in the News

The Pueblo West Metropolitan District Board on Tuesday agreed to move forward with a community solar farm proposal that would help bring sustainable energy to Pueblo West.

Jake Bobrow, of GRID Alternatives of Denver, said his nonprofit agency partners with communities to do solar projects to supply solar power. The organization helps serve low-income households in rural areas, trains workers in the industry and along the way has helped 15,000 homes go solar.

“The solar industry is growing and the industry is in desperate need of really good trained employees,” he said.

Grid Alternatives made a presentation to the metro district Wednesday.

The Denver group is a non-profit and says they want to help reduce people's power bills.

Jake Bobrow of GRID Alternatives of Denver said his non-profit agency partners with communities to do solar projects to supply solar power. The organization helps serve low income households in rural areas, trains workers in the industry and along the way has helped 15,000 homes go solar.

“The solar industry is growing and the industry is in desperate need of really good trained employees,” he said.

United Nations data indicates that 80% of the people displaced by climate change are women. Immediately after natural disasters, like Hurricanes Maria and Katrina, reporting shows that women face an uptick in gender-based violence and harassment.

This legislation expands the Low-Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to create new financing programs, provides Section 8 homeowner’s interest free loans and much more. In Virginia, the solar industry employs nearly 4,000 people and produces enough solar energy to power over 87,000 homes.

“Our country must transition to a clean energy economy and increase access to renewable energies for all Americans,” said Congressman A. Donald McEachin. “That is why our legislation is so important: the Low-Income Solar Energy Act will make it easier for low-income individuals and affordable housing residents to use solar energy. I am pleased to introduce this legislation with my colleagues, including Senator Duckworth, Senator Booker, Congresswoman Barragán, and Congresswoman Jayapal, co-chairs of our bicameral task force committed to environmental justice. It is appropriate that the first bill we have introduced together will increase energy affordability and help protect our planet for future generations.”

“All Americans—regardless of whether they have good credit, own a home, or live in multi-family building—deserve to be able to access solar energy,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to be introducing this legislation with Senator Booker and Congressman McEachin that would make it easier for low-income Americans to use solar energy and lower their utility bills, which will help our nation reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, combat climate change and decrease air pollution.”

Erica Mackie is the CEO of Grid Alternatives, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that has helped nearly 15,000 low-income families to go solar at no cost. It has also provided more than 42,000 people with solar education and job training. Mackie co-founded Grid Alternatives in 2001 while working as an engineer in the private sector, and since then the organization has become a driving force for access and equity in the PV industry.

In March 2018, the city purchased the 10-acre plot of vacant land for $192,500. Per the adopted resolution, the land has been leased to Grid Alternatives Colorado — selected by Black Hills Energy as the solar garden operator — for 20 years.

As part of the arrangement, Grid Alternatives Colorado will enter into solar subscription agreements with the Housing Authority of the City of Pueblo, allowing multi-family affordable housing units and low-income qualified single-family residential customers to benefit in the form of electric bill credits.

Councilman Larry Atencio, who represents the East Side, has been championing the project for more than a year.

What makes someone “low-income”? What other things should I know?

Most solar programs designed to make panels more affordable for low-income homeowners use Area Median Income (AMI) to determine if a family is low-income. The AMI is interchangeable with the term “income limit area.”

The AMI is administered by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and, in short, determines eligibility for affordable housing and other programs by comparing a family’s income to the median income where they live. It changes based on how many people live in the household.

Funding for new tribal facility and residential solar energy projects, including matching funds for Department of Energy grants, will help further tribal energy security and resilience, workforce training and build tribal energy sovereignty. TSAF received more than 40 applications totaling over $7 million in requests for tribal solar projects from dozens of applicants, demonstrating the need and excitement for renewable energy technology and workforce development in tribal communities.

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