In September, a group of 50 women from around the country joined GRID Alternatives Colorado for GRID's first-ever WE Build retreat. Over three days, the women forged valuable connections, participated in inspiring workshops led by some of the solar industry's best and brightest, and installed 200 panels on a low-income community solar array in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The project was built in partnership with Yampa Valley Electric Association, which is also the only electric utility in Colorado whose Chief Executive Officer and General Manager, Diane Johnson, is a woman.
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 Committee 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 camaraderie 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!
--- Grace Brown
See photos of the Women in Solar Leadership Build and Retreat here!
With special thanks to: