Leading Cap & Trade in LA: Veteran volunteer goes solar!


May 18, 2015

With every system that GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles (GLA) installs, another family joins the GRID Alternatives community. Sometimes, GLA has the special opportunity to provide solar for volunteers who have already given back so much of their time and dedication to the organization. This was the case for Geoff Harjo and his family who received a 2.2 kW system for their South Los Angeles home. The Harjo’s installation is unique not only because Geoff, an Army veteran, is a Team Leader and prior intern with our office, but also because his installation marked our first installation in the City of Los Angeles using funds generated by California’s Cap and Trade program, a landmark program created by AB32 to reduce emissions.

As a result of SB535, a bill authored by Senator Kevin de León that directs a portion of the funds to disadvantaged communities, GRID Alternatives received funding to install more than 1600 systems statewide through 2016. The Harjo’s installation is not just a first for us, it is also the first of the cap and trade investments to reach residents of Los Angeles. We plan to install 200 systems in the Los Angeles basin in conjunction with LADWP over the next two years. 

Homeowner Geoff Harjo (left) and GLA Executive Director Michael Kadish (right) admire the Harjo's solar system
Homeowner Geoff Harjo (left) and GLA Executive Director Michael Kadish (right) admire the Harjo's solar system
 For Geoff, the opportunity to have GLA install solar on his home signified his past experiences coming full circle. Geoff completed over 200 volunteer hours as a Team Leader and a six-month-long internship with GLA through The Mission Continues, a nonprofit that empowers veterans adjusting to life at home. Read more about Geoff’s experience interning with us here

On a windy afternoon, our team installed the ten modules on Geoff’s South LA home. This wasn’t just an install - it was a family affair. The children played in the yard with the family dog. Geoff’s wife, Ruth, expertly prepared a feast alongside her family including homemade sauces and delicious BBQ. The crew, filled with fellow veterans, swapped stories over lunch about how solar impacted their lives upon returning from service overseas. Current GLA staff reminisced about Geoff’s time as a volunteer and intern, catching up like old friends. For Geoff, this was not just a routine home improvement project, this was an opportunity to lead progress for their entire neighborhood:  

[Through solar], we can uplift our whole neighborhood that much more…To see panels on lots of roofs designates that the neighborhood has something great going on.  It changes the community identity towards a forward thinking area. As a homeowner, it has a good feeling to it. 

Geoff, a father of two, not only continues to lead in his neighborhood, but also in the solar industry. His article, “Micro CHP Residential Fuel Cells: What’s the ROI?” was recently featured on Popular Network. Geoff continues to pursue his Associates Degree in Solar Photovoltaics at Santa Monica College and works full-time in security. 

Follow our progress in LA with our Project Map!
Click here for photos from the installation. 
Read more about GRID Alternatives’ role in California’s Cap and Trade here