GRID's "How I Got Here" Series: Monica Idiaquez

This is the latest in a series of regular profiles introducing the GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles staff. In their own way, each member of our team brings a passion for renewable energy to the day-to-day work of Los Angeles' most socially-minded solar company. Here's how one of them got to that point: Monica Idiaquez, Outreach & Operations Associate.

Monica Idiaquez is one of the staffers on the Greater Los Angeles office's team who keeps an eye on every homeowner and their project. As a family goes solar through Energy for All, it needs to have two-way communication with its solar company about requirements, timeline, and ultimately the next steps. It's a body of knowledge that Monica has down pat! "More than likely they'd be talking to me over the phone," she explains from her desk in the GLA Outreach Department, "and I'd be helping them through the qualification process."

Monica's journey in solar started with asking the right questions. As a college student she knew that there was solar in Diriamba, a Nicaraguan city close to where her father was born. So the Los Angeles native committed herself to understanding that array more deeply during her time at the University of California, Santa Barbara. "I went to UCSB, and through the Global Studies Department became increasingly interested in environmental issues. We had to pick a specific facility [in my senior energy access course] and analyze not just environmental impact, but impact in the community around it." Thanks to her research, she saw that the best green energy projects brought power to their communities in more ways than one.

After graduation, Monica started an AmeriCorps role with the environmental education organization Mujeres de la Tierra. She felt herself drawn to do more work for environmental justice in L.A.'s hardest-hit communities. One night, she typed "renewable energy jobs solar" into a Google search box. The first result was a job at a nonprofit—GRID Alternatives.

As she was hired as a SolarCorps Outreach Fellow at GLA, Monica had the chance to master our program's administrative processes. Her college education about renewables was enhanced by working on contracts, system design, and even some rooftop installation days. "The fellowship was really instrumental in me developing my skills," Monica recalls. With her homeowner and contract experience, she was qualified to have a job with a residential solar company; instead, she chose to stay with GLA after her term was finished.

Nowadays, most of her day is spent bringing online GLA residential projects like our recent San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity installations in Monrovia. "They might also interact with me post-installation with any questions they might have. That's especially true if they have any billing questions before we transfer a project to the service department," Monica explains. With GLA's success helping 200 families access solar bill savings in 2018, we owe a big part of our success to Monica's organized, service-first approach. She doesn't just help our families; she makes working with GLA a pleasure!

For the last half of a year, Monica's also served as leader within our local Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity (EID) team. She sees that energy justice is a community-wide project, and that everyone in the community needs to be seen in order for them to play an effective part. Meanwhile, she takes satisfaction in continuing great relationships with families going solar, who understand what household choices like the EFA program mean for the planet. "The family is most focused on the economic impact [of solar]. But bigger picture? They're having an impact on air quality around the area and helping the community transition."