"Gramma can you believe it? You got solar panels!" squealed eight-year old Diamond as her grandmother looked through pictures of the solar array that was just installed on her roof. Diamond's grandmother, Ida, heard about GRID Alternatives when its offices were only located on the West Coast and waited patiently for years hoping GRID would come to this area. Now that GRID Alternatives has a Mid-Atlantic Regional office in DC, Ida was finally able to get solar on her Baltimore home. People from the Baltimore community came together to make this installation happen: local volunteers, GRID Solar Corps fellows and staff members, AmeriCorps Members from Baltimore Energy Challenge program, and Ida's family members all had a hand in this project. This solar installation was one of the first of many to take place in Baltimore, a result of the shared mission and collaboration of multiple organizations.
Baltimore Energy Challenge is a local, service-oriented nonprofit in Baltimore, currently helping Baltimore communities improve their water and energy efficiency. "This program not only educates residents, business-owners, and students on simple and low-cost steps to save energy, but also provides direct installations and retrofits that help people pay their bills,” said Tom, the Heat Island Projects Coordinator with Baltimore Energy Challenge. “We are very excited that we can now go a step further and help connect many qualifying homes with significant bill-reducing projects such as solar panel installations.” Through the Heat Island Projects, Tom coordinates solar installations and organizes the volunteers that gain solar industry skills.
Two AmeriCorps Members from the Baltimore Energy Challenge, Nava and Antonio, participated in the solar installation with guidance from GRID staff and are now able to add solar installation skills to their resume. Nava enjoyed being up on the roof and working for a solar power non-profit. "I think GRID is really awesome because solar is something that is made accessible to everyone." Baltimore native, Antonio, was a little hesitant to get up on the roof at first. When he did, he asked a GRID staff member to take a picture. "My boss won't believe I'm up here!" he said. Antonio said that when he finishes the Civic Works program in August, he wants to use his education award to go to school. “I’m interested in doing something with electricity,” said Antonio. “This volunteer experience showed me that it’s something I’m really interested in.”
Baltimore Energy Challenge will continue to work with GRID on future installs in Baltimore City. Morgan State University, The Department of Energy, Baltimore Energy Challenge are all working together to reach the goal of 31 GRID solar installations in the Baltimore region by the end of the year.
This is what we do at GRID Alternatives; we work to make solar accessible to homeowners like Ida, and to give job training experience to young people like Nava and Antonio, while bringing together partners in the community who share the common goal of making renewable energy accessible to everyone.