Mid-Atlantic's first Solarthon!


October 17, 2017
Three Solarthon volunteers pose with a banner

GRID Alternatives first Solarthon block party in the Mid-Atlantic held in an affordable housing complex in Capitol Heights, Maryland.

GRID Alternatives hosted its first Solarthon in the Mid-Atlantic on October 15 and 16th for an affordable housing complex in Capitol Heights, Maryland. With support from Duke University Energy Initiative, Sun Power, Enterprise Community Partners, New Energy Generations, Sun Crest Heights Apartment, VNV Development, national sponsors, and individuals donors, over 140 low-income residents will benefit from a 250 kW solar installation on the complex. 

Solarthon is GRID Alternatives’ flagship community installation event, bringing together people from all walks of life including individual volunteers, corporate sponsors, and community leaders.

On Sunday a majority of the volunteers were individual donors who either donated or fundraised for a spot on the roof. Some of the volunteers were already in the solar, energy, or environmental space but wanted hands-on learning, including Kerene,a Policy Director at Green for All, Mishal, who recently jump-started DC District Solar, a local solar company, and Austin, who’s on the Customer Energy Services team for Sol Systems.

Three Solarthon volunteers take a break from installing solar
This is Kerene, Mishal, and Austin’s first time volunteering with GRID. They are also current members or alumni of the Clean Energy Leadership Institute.
For other individuals, Solarthon was their door to explore volunteer opportunities with GRID and the solar industry. Daniel, a government contractor, shares, “This is wonderful meaningful work and I’m really happy to be a part of it. This was my first time volunteering and I’ll definitely be back.” Christina, a computer science student from Morgan State University, wants to someday build the solar monitoring software and hardware.

On Monday, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic’s Executive Director, Nicole Steele, gathered the Mid-Atlantic staff  to help out with the install. In the morning, a speaking event kicked off the build. Chris Van Arsdale of VNV Development, the building owners of Sun Crest Heights Apartment, shares, “We are excited for this project. This is the largest solar array on a multi-family in all of the region, not just Prince George’s County!”

Nicole Steele with GRID, Chris VanArsdale with VNV Development, and Monica Warren-Jones with Enterprise cut conduit
Chris, Monica, and Nicole celebrated the Solarthon project through a red conduit-cutting event.
“Families living in an affordable home are less likely to forego a doctor’s appointment visit, medicine, and all the other things they need to keep their children healthy,” says Monica Warren-Jones who works to funnel private capital to preserve affordable homes in Maryland for Enterprise through the Enterprise Community Loan Fund. She shares,   “As a parent and an employee of Enterprise, it’s important to have a place to live that makes you feel good when you come home.” 

The 250 kW solar system will provide up to 99% of the building’s electric load and result in up to 33-40% savings on the electricity bill for the complex. The solar array solar will keep rent costs low and the savings from the solar system will fund renovations to the building, including a new roof, new kitchen upgrades, complete unit interior renovation, water-saving fixtures, energy star appliances, and new LED lighting and electrical system upgrades. The combined solar panels across the roof and carport will also offset 6,520 tons of greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to planting 151, 650 trees.

Solarthon was monetarily supported by 12 undergraduate and graduate student from Duke University’s Energy Initiative program. They joined GRID the week before during their visit to the National’s Capital to talk to energy policy makers. 

The Mid-Atlantic Staff and volunteers pose for a photo
GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic staff out of the office for Solarthon.
Thanks to our donors and volunteers, the Sun Crest Heights apartment will host the largest residential roof-mount solar pv system in all of Prince George’s County, MD. GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic is getting close to installing 1 MW in the region with multi-family projects like Sun Crest Heights that provide solar technology to low-income rent payers. 

If you’re interested in learning more about GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic multi-family solar projects, learn more here. https://www.gridalternatives.org/what-we-do/solar-programs/multifamily. To learn about future volunteer opportunities, sign up here.