Change is Coming


April 22, 2019
Team of girls from Rice University smiling

In April our Central Valley office hosted ten students from Rice University, Houston, Texas for Solar Spring Break! Solar Spring Break is a tradition at GRID Alternatives that invites college students to learn how to install solar in underserved communities and participate in various other service-learning projects. This program allows students to travel to one of GRID’s regional offices where they are exposed to environmental and economic issues that affect the communities we serve. These students chose an alternate way of celebrating their spring break, instead of some of the more traditional recreations and were able to gain skills and make some meaningful connections with GRID staff and local communities. Previously, we have had the pleasure of hosting University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Duke University, and California State University, East Bay.   

During the week, the students toured Southern California Edison’s Big Creek Hydroelectric Project where they learned about another type of renewable energy, the history of hydroelectric power plants, and the role they played during California’s drought. The students also had the opportunity to participate on a solar installation, along with help from our GRID staff, learning new skills while making a lasting impact for two local low-income families. The students were excited to share their experience, what they took away from the trip, and show appreciation to GRID Alternatives’ staff for this life changing experience. 

Group of students installing solar panels on roof

Hazel Scott, a sophomore majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering (CEVE), loved participating on the installation and seeing the impact it made on the family. “The install was great! I enjoyed the way we helped a community and only wish there was a way to do this type of work more consistently. Volunteer opportunities like this aren’t as readily available in Houston,” was a comment made by Hazel.

Leslie Arrazolo is a freshman majoring in Bioengineering and loved the working environment at GRID. “It was about way more than just installing panels. Even having a working environment that’s comfortable and with people you enjoy working with is something we don’t often think of.”

“I learned that you don’t need a big space to make a big impact on a community. This entire week was amazing because I felt like part of a team and included in something bigger than myself,” was a comment made by freshman CEVE major, Kianna Broadman.

All of the students really enjoyed being exposed to private-sector renewables when visiting Big Creek’s Hydroelectric Power Plant. Alyssa Jordan, a freshman majoring in Civil and Environmental Engineering was particularly interested in the challenges these different renewables face.

“I loved seeing the interconnection and different interactions between renewables. I believe that change is coming and it’s here,” Jordan said. “This week was an eye-opening and amazing experience! The entire staff really wanted to teach us and we could see how much they cared about us all. We’re extremely thankful for this experience.” Each of the students left with the hope of eventually working the field of renewable energy.      

Team of students from Rice University on their Solar Spring Break in front of house after installing