GRID IE kicks off first ever tribal demonstration project in Bishop

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July 23, 2013

GRID Alternatives Inland Empire (GRID IE) is partnering with the Bishop Paiute Tribe for its first-ever Tribal Solar Demonstration Project, bringing clean energy, much needed utility cost savings, and solar job skills to families on the Paiute Reservation located near the City of Bishop. 

Over the course of 10 days GRID IE staff will lead teams of solar trainees from the tribe to install solar electric systems at no cost for the income-qualified owners of five tribal homes, a total of eighteen family members. The project kicked off on Tuesday, July 23 with an event attended by the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council, Southern California Edison, community leaders, and local and state representatives as well as families receiving solar systems. (Click here to listen to local radio coverage of the project).

For tribal homeowners, financial savings are vital. WaSuYaa West, a project participant, expressed her enthusiasm about the anticipated economic relief that this project will bring to her community. “My electric bills are very high – about $145 per month. I have a medium income job and am supporting three kids. There is no way I could ever afford solar panels on my own.” Through GRID Alternatives’ program, West will receive a 3.6 kW solar electric system that is estimated to reduce her annual electric bill by over 50%.

Access to clean power is a top priority for the Bishop Paiute Tribe. “My grandkids have asthma, and I have developed allergies over the years,” said Charlene Redner, a participating homeowner. “I really think solar power will help improve the air, making these things much better.”

“[Solar power] is less harmful to the environment than electricity generated by oil and coal,” noted another tribe member. “And solar will help our community because it is dependable.”

The Bishop Paiute solar electric systems combined will total over 17 kW, generating nearly a million kWh of clean renewable energy over the lifetime of the systems. This equates to more than $160,000 in total savings for the five families. In addition, 505 tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be prevented, equivalent to planting 12,000 trees, or taking 90 cars off the road for one year! All of the systems were designed with Yingli Green Energy America modules and Enphase inverters. Stay tuned for more posts as the project gets underway, or check out our Facebook page for photos and updates.