Our mission of making clean, affordable renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities everywhere is accomplished thanks to strategic partners that align with our work and values. SunPower Corporation is one such partner. As part of GRID's three-year, national Solar Futures partnership with SunPower, GRID Inland Empire recently installed three solar projects in Desert Hot Springs with help from local high school students. GRID Inland Empire has deep roots in Desert Hot Springs, having provided no-cost solar to over 140 families in the community to date.
The Castro family was one of the three families able to go solar with SunPower's generous support. Fernando Castro moved to Desert Hot Springs from Imperial Valley a year ago with his wife and two children. They were able to purchase their home thanks to Coachella Valley Housing Coalition (CVHC). CVHC’s Self-Help Housing Program enables qualified low-income families to achieve the dream of homeownership through a unique home loan program where applicants participate in the construction of their home. After moving in, Fernando noticed that many of his neighbors had received solar with GRID, so he was encouraged to apply.
When the Castro family's install day came, our Workforce and Volunteer team called on educational partners to help complete the solar installation project. Desert Hot Springs High School has worked on many solar projects in conjunction with GRID’s Solar Futures program, equipping and educating students with a win-win combination of classroom curriculum and hands-on job training that prepares them for a rewarding career in the solar industry. Castro’s recent no-cost solar installation had a team of about 10 volunteers from Desert Hot Springs’ the REAL Academy, as well as their instructor Michael Phelan.
“I have been working with GRID for six years," said Michael. "I have done approximately 30 installs for GRID as an instructor on special assignment and not just stood by and watched my students, but had the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder working with them on installations. I love GRID Alternatives because they educate and inspire these students to prepare them to be ‘job-ready’. I also love what GRID does for veterans through its Troops to Solar program because I am a proud veteran,” he added.
Fred Guitierrez is a Desert Hot Springs student and GRID volunteer who has been on a few installations and really enjoys it. “I have learned so much through volunteering with GRID, like the electrical wiring, setting up the railing and installing the solar panels. The most important thing that I enjoy is knowing that we are making a difference with families and also helping the environment,” said Fred. He is looking forward to pursuing a career in solar and has recently accepted an internship with solar company Hot Purple Energy, thanks to his experience installing with GRID.
“I am proud of solar and the carbon footprint that I am directly involved with through my work with GRID,”’ said Desert Hot Springs REAL Academy instructor Michael. “I am a huge advocate for it and feel that we should not only educate students, but society as a whole on being more environmentally-conscience by producing cleaner, more efficient energy and reducing our waste.
Special thanks to SunPower for their generous support of our Solar Futures Program. For more information about GRID’s job training programs, visit gridalternatives.org/get-training. If you are a homeowner and would like information about GRID’s solar program, visit gridsolar.org or call 951.465.2864.