Women in Solar Initiative kicks off!

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April 28, 2014

Despite the tremendous growth of the solar industry, women are significantly underrepresented in its ranks. But the women that came together for GRID Alternatives' National Women in Solar Initiative kick-off event last Friday are ready to change that! GRID Alternatives, in partnership with SunEdison, launched the initiative to bring a new generation of women into the renewable energy industry and support their professional growth at a time when their expertise and voices are needed more than ever.

The Denver kick-off event was a great success, bringing together women leaders, students, and up-and-coming women professionals to install solar for two Denver low-income families. The idea was to foster a networking and mentoring environment, give female students a chance to practice what they’re learning in class, and expose local women leaders and community members to solar energy while igniting a conversation around women in solar. Female students and leaders came from across the state, including women from SunEdison, Enphase EnergyB LabGo Lite, WISE, SunsharePrologisWells FargoLeadership InvestmentNamaste SolarNREL, and Home Power Magazine, Red Rocks Community CollegeColorado Mountain College, Solar Energy International and Ecotech Institute.

"GRID Alternatives is making Colorado better, one roof at a time," said Kim Coupounas, founder of Colorado-based outdoor company GoLite and now Director of B Lab Colorado. "It was an honor to be a part of the first WE Build project in Colorado to help kick of GRID's national Women in Solar initiative. More women in the renewable energy sector is just good sense, not to mention great for Colorado's economy. To be able to make a difference in the lives of two Colorado families while we connected with amazing women leaders who are each dedicated to doing her part to improve Colorado's environment and communities - that was a day well spent!"

Two SW Denver families were our gracious hosts and the beneficiaries of these first all-women solar installations. The Soto family, and Jodi Frazer and Rita Sanchez were ecstatic to have the opportunity to get solar and help kick-off a national Women in Solar initiative. Jodi and Rita had spent their whole lives working in male-dominated industries. Rita lost her job recently and was forced into early retirement, putting a strain on their finances. Electricity bills that could reach over $325 during colder months weren't helping. They're very thankful for the opportunity to save money with solar, and to "know that there are people out there like GRID Alternatives that are helping the people that can't afford it." Jodi added a message for women out there thinking about getting into solar: "Go big time for it...it's gonna be the future. Take the opportunity!"

High fives
After the installations, the first of a series of "WE Build" women's installation and networking events nationwide, the whole team gathered at Stoney's in downtown Denver for a "WE Build" Happy Hour. Most hurried straight from the roof, exhausted, invigorated, excited - and ready for a beer! Climate leader Maggie Fox, and event sponsors Dawn Brister and Alakesh Chetia with SunEdison and Carol Neslund with Enphase Energy capped off the amazing event. Maggie Fox summed up the day beautifully, tying in the actions of the WE Build group that day with the bigger-picture need for a movement in women leadership to address the biggest challenges of today. 

"21st century challenges, have to bring out a different quality of leadership – and a different vision. [GRID Alternatives] and this work, touch all of the basic points of brilliance in today’s society: women, empowered to be professionals, in an industry that's been dominated entirely by men, driving a different energy economy, while working at the local level."

We couldn't have said it better! Thanks again to everyone who came out and made this event possible, and here's a big high-five from GRID staff Emily Birk and high school student Alexa Soto to kick off a great year for Women in Solar!