Women helping women go solar


March 21, 2013

In February, GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles completed its eighth and final solar installation project supported by a grant from the William C. Bannerman Foundation.  This grant helped support the installation of 26kW of clean solar power for Los Angeles area low-income homeowners, providing over $240,000 worth of affordable energy for the families who need it the most.  In addition these projects are reducing greenhouse gasses every day; over their lifetime, they will reduce over 760 tons of CO2, the equivalent of planting almost 18,000 trees.  The Bannerman Foundation prioritizes work that supports the environment as well as advancing women?s rights and opportunities so it was especially appropriate to complete our last solar project under this grant with a Women?s Build.

The 2.2 kW solar electric system was installed for Janice Tyler of South Los Angeles.  Her eldest daughter Cathy noted that the family was particularly pleased to have an all-women?s install team on the roof.  ?It?s always been just me and my sister and my Mom, we all took care of each other,? she said.  She went on to note that as long as she could remember her mother was always working multiple jobs.   The Bannerman supported solar electric system will reduce energy costs for Janice by 99%.  At 65, Cathy told us, Janice hopes to retire and the savings from solar will really help her make ends meet, but just being included in the more widespread adoption of solar energy makes her feel more hopeful about the future she will leave for her daughters.

Anna Bautista, the GRID Alternatives' national Director of Construction, came out to lead this installation herself. There are currently only about 20 women in the state of California who are certified with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners and Anna is one of them.  "It's always an honor for me to lead Women's Builds, and this particular install was a real treat for me," Anna said, after leading her team to safely complete the installation despite some challenging weather conditions. "GRID's roofs are safe learning spaces but Women's Builds provide an additional empowering place for women to build job skills and more importantly to demonstrate their leadership."

Michelle Belacic of Solar City took the day off to participate in this installation as well.  "I'm always willing to come out and work for a good cause," she said. Michelle was a dedicated volunteer with GRID and became a Team Leader under our advanced training program and attributes her employment in the solar industry to the skills and expertise she gained from working with GRID. Returning to volunteer with GRID still affords her additional learning opportunities and this install gave her the opportunity to work with conduit bending and expand her already formidable skill set.

Many thanks to all the hard-working women who came out to make solar happen for the Tyler family and to the Bannerman Foundation for helping low-income families like the Tylers meet their monthly expenses.  With reduced energy cost burdens for families and access to nontraditional job skills training for women and other under-represented groups in the new green economy, we?re using the benefits of clean solar power to help individuals work towards their personal futures while building a more hopeful and shared economic and environmental future for all of us.