Twentynine Palms Homeowner turns Solar Advocate


June 29, 2020
Homeowner Debbie Schow

Debbie Schow attended high school in Twentynine Palms, moved away and returned decades later. She also lived in Ireland and later moved to Olympia, Washington. The seasons are very rainy in Washington and she took care of her ill mother and brother until they succumbed to their illnesses. She needed a personal change so decided to move to California where she was offered to rent a home through a friend of a friend. Later, needing to economize, she was able to go from being a renter to becoming a homeowner. Debbie lives alone with her two cats Tomata and Lola-Sweetie Pie, is on disability and works part time as a life skills worker for developmentally disadvantaged clients.

Debbie learned about GRID Alternatives Inland Empire (GRID IE) through the Southern California Edison website. “I researched the cost of getting solar prior to GRID and couldn’t afford it. I was quoted upwards of $10,000 and even saw ads about free solar but didn’t trust the sources,” she said. The savings she will soon see on her energy bill (up to 80%) will make an enormous difference due to her being on a limited income. In the summer months, it gets up to 116 degrees in the desert and even up to 90 at nighttime. Central a/c is a must and sometimes the heat requires you to run it almost 24/7. She said most of her money goes towards the cost of her energy bill due to the excessive usage of her a/c. “I am so happy and grateful to now have solar,” said Debbie.

Debbie said her experience with GRID has been great, from the interview to the inspection to the application process, she said she was very impressed! She was presented with site plans and specs, which she reviewed and went over with GRID staff on the best placement options for her solar system. Due to Covid-19, she didn’t’ think she would be able to get her solar installed this year. “Everyone was very helpful and knowledgeable without being pushy. I was really really impressed! I am very grateful to the whole crew. They made the process of getting solar as seamless as possible. I look forward to seeing the savings on my first bill,” she said.

Living in Ireland and the UK taught Debbie to be more energy conscious and helped her develop good energy habits. The European culture was more progressive when it comes to energy-efficiency. She said they were already bringing their own bags to the grocery store and practicing recycling well before the U.S. In her younger years, she was in a Rock Indie band in Ireland where she was a singer, guitarist and songwriter in the 1980’s, at a time when there wasn’t a lot of female rock-in-roll electric guitarists. In addition to performing on stage, she was also an entertainment publicist and worked for a music distribution company while living in London.

At 63 years-old, Debbie has recovered from a severe illness and is high-risk to Corona Virus. Due to being on disability and a fixed income, she has not been able to get back to Ireland, but said she hopes to return soon to visit friends. When asked what she is looking forward to doing post-COVID-19, she replied, “I look forward to meeting with my clients face-to-face, going to restaurants with friends and simply exhaling and feeling safe again!” With solar, she said she is happy to now be contributing to the energy grid and not just taking from it.

Visit or contact the Outreach team at 1-866-921-4696 to see if you qualify for GRID’s Energy for All Program.