Wilmington Senior Center is the first storage push in efforts to green the port community: our Green Harbor

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March 08, 2021
The glass of commercial solar panels sits on the roof of a senior center

February saw the completion of Solar Installation Supervisors' work on the first commercial job in almost a year: our lead project of 2021 to bring both commercial solar and battery storage to Wilmington! An industrial and residential community located by the largest and busiest ports in America, Wilmington has long dealt with the most polluted air in Greater Los Angeles. It may not surprise us to see that communities of color and working-class families here get disadvantaged in health and economic outcomes within an economy that has largely failed to move beyond the Wilmington Oil Field days of the 20th century. But as GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles, we're definitely proud to offer working Californians and vulnerable populations here something new.

February's almost-100-panel system installation, done entirely by SISes and our SolarCorps Construction Fellow due to the ongoing pandemic, sits on the roof of the decades-old Wilmington Senior Center, part of the neighborhood's largest park. When it's able to charge its batteries, our solar will keep the Senior Center resilient in the face of inclement weather or grid blackouts – including adverse effects from climate change. In a typical scenario, Center staff from the Wilmington Jaycees Foundation team will be able to depend on storage for at least two days, independent of the local utility. Given the services this nonprofit currently offers their vulnerable community, like two-shot vaccinations that need cold temperatures, it's not hard to imagine this technology being vital–saving lives!

This is the first project we've done in Wilmington since before the coronavirus, and it represents that exciting launch of our Green Harbor initiative in the portside neighborhoods. Through solar and storage solutions, we aim to shift community attention and community dependence towards the green, limitless energy sources of the 21st century – while contributing to a strong economy that goes beyond extractive industries in the Harbor. We appreciate The 11th Hour Project, a program of the Schmidt Family Foundation, for choosing to invest more than two years ago in a symbol of change located in a community deprived of investments independent from the fossil fuel industry (specifically technology that saves the Wilmington Senior Center management thousands of dollars on electric bills). As a result of their project, Wilmington's local leaders will be able to adapt to all sorts of changing circumstances: from the public health crisis (they'll be capable of weathering it) to the financial disaster (they're poised to save money while still keeping the doors open) to the city minimum wage increase (Wilmington Jaycees will actually expand staff as the wage rises). We also appreciate the Solar Moonshot program (more information here) for working alongside our Multifamily team in 2020 and 2021 to provide necessary pre-installation repairs on the Wilmington Senior Center roof.

To learn more about Solar for Nonprofits, visit our page. As we transform the public's sense of what a place like Wilmington can adapt to in the Green Harbor initiative, we'll count on plenty of partners to walk with us into a cleaner, more prosperous, and protected future.