Notes From Nicole

Hear what our Executive Director has to say about energy policy in DC and what's happening in our GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic office. 
Follow Nicole Steele, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic’s Executive Director, on Twitter @ElectricSteele

Support our work in the Mid-Atlantic and make a donation to our regional office!


My favorite moments of this year were meeting the fall Solar Works DC cohort on their first day in September, and then seeing them all graduate the program 12 weeks later. They were just as full of passion for learning their last day as they were their first, and I was able to see how far they had come.

Over the course of 12 weeks, the 22 trainees completed Photovoltaics 101, Photovoltaics Sales 101, CPR/First Aid and OSHA 10 training, LEED Green Associates Prep, and job readiness workshops, earning industry relevant certificates, all while assisting GRID’s Construction team in completing 24 residential and commercial solar installations. 

Less than two weeks after their graduation, six trainees have already received job offers in the solar industry! Right now, 13 trainees are preparing for their NABCEP certification exam, and others are interviewing with local companies for solar installation, sales, and design openings. The hands-on in-depth training they received prepared them to launch their solar career. 

Your support helps trainees receive the hands-on training and experience needed to start their career in the solar industry. Consider making a donation to GRID today.

JUNE 2017

We need you to take action today. 

So much of the work we do at GRID in Washington, DC is supported by funds currently threatened by City Council. The Solar for All Program and the newly announced Solar Works DC solar job training program are both supported by the Renewable Energy Development Fund (REDF). Recently, a move by City Council to sweep $7.5M from the REDF, and away from solar, happened without any discussion.

Here’s where YOU can help!

On Tuesday, June 13th, DC City Council members are going to vote on whether to restore funds to the REDF, which has propelled much of GRID’s impactful work in the Mid-Atlantic region. 

GRID Mid-Atlantic has provided nearly 70 D.C. homeowner with solar at no cost, and trained D.C. residents in solar installation skills through the Green Zone Environmental Program!
GRID Mid-Atlantic has provided nearly 70 D.C. homeowner with solar at no cost, and trained D.C. residents in solar installation skills through the Green Zone Environmental Program!
We support the Solar For All Program for PEOPLE. Through the REDF, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic has provided nearly 70 low-income families in DC with solar, resulting in over 2 million in lifetime savings. We believe that everyone in the District should be involved in the transition to clean, renewable energy. 

We support the Solar For All Program for the PLANET. Through the REDF, GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic will prevent over 12,000 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Climate change is an issue; and now, more than ever, D.C. needs to be a leader in clean energy. 

We support the Solar For All Program for EMPLOYMENT. Through the REDF, we trained our first cohort of 15 local District youth through the Green Zone Environmental Program last summer. We are also partnering with DOEE and DOES to launch a new program, Solar Works DC – a year-round solar job training program. With the solar industry growing at a rate faster than the US economy, we need to make sure District individuals are trained and qualified to enter the workforce. 

In order to continue doing the work that we do in D.C., we support the REDF funds being restored. 

If you support what we do for PEOPLE, the PLANET, and EMPLOYMENT, please call your City Councilmembersign this letter, and sign up to volunteer with GRID Alternatives. 

MAY 2017

At GRID, our work is intersectional. As we’ve spent the first part of the year celebrating African American and Women’s History months, and just wrapped up Earth and National Volunteer Appreciation Month, I am reminded our work touches so many efforts that are typically siloed from one another. Equity, diversity and inclusion permeate our mission to bring clean energy to everyone.   

Did you know in the past two years alone, the portion of women in the solar industry increased by nearly 10%? That still leaves us at only 28% of the overall solar workforce. In May, GRID Mid-Atlantic kicks off an effort to increase gender diversity in the solar industry by hosting our first We Build, an all-women solar installation event that is part of GRID’s national Women in Solar Program. Come support Women in Solar – and enjoy happy hour specials – the evening before the install on May 19. Join us, register today!

Did you know GRID employs 49% women & 23% women in Construction and 51% people of color? We walk the walk and talk the talk at GRID. At the core of our mission is Realizing an Inclusive Solar Economy (RISE).  We target our recruitment in the communities we serve and create leaders from within ready to innovate in the fast-growing solar industry through real-world job training and experience. Meet Dom and Keon, GRID SolarCorps Construction fellows.  

Did you know our volunteers are 35% women & 55% people of color led by over 250 SolarCorps trainees? Since opening our doors a little over two years ago, we have hosted and trained over 500 volunteers and job trainees. In the coming days, we will announce how we plan to expand our program significantly over the next year. Nearly 75% of Mid-Atlantic employers say it’s either somewhat or very difficult to hire qualified employees – we hope to not only help support that need locally, but also make sure everyone has a chance to join this new clean energy economy. Through hot days or cold days, or cloudy days, our volunteers and trainees have showed up and installed solar for a family in need. Sign up to volunteer or be a solar champion.

Did you know climate change is a critical part of our mission? Our over 500kW of solar installed has a major environmental impact by significantly reducing greenhouse gases in both the Washington D.C. and Baltimore areas. We have prevented nearly 12,000 tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere. Many of the communities we work in are on the front lines of harmful emissions and if we can help reduce the need for those fossil fuels, we’re also supporting the health and wealth of those most impacted. We even marched to support the issue! 

The GRID family is passionate, committed, and driven to serve our triple bottom line. People. Planet. Employment. All are welcome. 

Get involved! Donate, volunteer, be a solar champion, and follow us on social media!


Let’s make this clear: Energy policy is local. It is important to recognize during this time that the needle can and will be moved the furthest and the fastest at the state and local levels of government. This will be our focus. I want to assure our clients and supporters solar is not going anywhere. The changes that will no doubt happen at the federal level certainly makes everything we do on a community level all the more critical. We have ambitious goals to achieve this year, and a lot of exciting programs and activities in the cards. 

What are those exactly? To install nearly 1MW of solar this year! That’s reducing utility bills for nearly 400 families and training hundreds of volunteers. We’ve kicked off a handful of multi-family and community solar projects that will help bring the benefits of solar to renters, tenants and other DC homeowners that do not have suitable roofs for solar. We have expanded opportunities for volunteers to get involved. The Solar Champions Program allows GRID volunteers to sponsor a home for solar, and complete the installation as a team. We are also rolling out our new Installation Basics Training (IBT) program, which will allow individuals to boost their resume by completing our certificate program designed to be in line with the national NABCEP program.

We want to keep this momentum going, regardless of who is in the White House. To do this, we must engage locally. Of course, we hope that you will choose to support GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic! We believe that everyone should have access to renewable energy, and we are looking forward to making 2017 the best year for solar yet.


Time to celebrate! We have accomplished so much in 2016 and now our office is just a few days away from hitting our 100th solar installation in the Mid-Atlantic region.

It has been a whirlwind year. We have had the honor to host milestone events such as the millionth solar installation in the US, the DC Renewable Portfolio Standard bill signing by DC Mayor Bowser, and the White House Summit in Baltimore with Secretary Moniz, Secretary Perez, and Mayor-Elect Pugh.

We have also hit many internal milestones including expanding into multifamily installations, where we are bringing the benefit of solar to many more people. We co-hosted our first Solar Focus Job Fair with MDV-SEIA, connecting job trainees and volunteers with local  solar employers. We had our first Troops to Solar event, bringing the benefits of solar job training to local veterans. We piloted the Green Zone Environmental Program with the District Department of Energy and the Environment this summer, and trained 15 local youth in solar skills. We even hired three of the GZEP trainees! Even in our office we can feel the growth; we have nearly doubled in size this year alone.

I am so excited to see what 2017 will bring! Consider giving the gift of solar this holiday season. Celebrate 100 installs with us by donating $100. 


We had our presidential election last Tuesday. As a result, many in our community are feeling powerless and uncertain; many even felt that before the election. 

I want you to know, it is my commitment to the GRID family to push the boundaries, recognize conflict is necessary, and work even harder to realize our vision of making clean, renewable energy accessible to everyone. It will be more difficult, but I also want to remind you that much of the policy work that GRID Alternatives thrives on originates at the state and local level. Our work is completed by an incredible staff, selfless volunteers and job trainees working everyday to better their lives and the world. Although we are unsure of the future of clean energy policy on a national scale, we are sure that our work will continue to make a difference. It is because of individuals and communities like you that care, that we are able to get our work done. 

At the same time, we have a lot to celebrate at GRID. We are quickly approaching our 100th install in the Mid-Atlantic. We just started our first multi-family project in DC. We will start our next multi-family project shortly in Maryland. We are hosting our first Mid-Atlantic job fair this week. We are cracking the nut on community solar. Our solar trainees are getting hired. I commit to you that this list will continue to grow. 

In this time of uncertainty, we are reminded of the importance of our work, we are reinvigorated with purpose, we are resolute in our values. I now ask for the GRID family to stand up and help us continue this work of building careers, community and opportunity. Please consider making a donation today.


October is National Energy Action Month. President Obama “called upon the citizens of the US to recognize this month by working together to achieve greater energy security, a more robust economy, and a healthier environment for our children”, in his official Proclamation.

At GRID Mid-Atlantic, we work to expand clean, renewable solar energy all year long and are honored to reflect on our impact, accomplishments, and partnerships. We recently finished up our 2016 partnership with DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), installing solar for 42 low-income families in the District of Columbia. In addition, we are half-way through installing 31 solar installations for low-income families in Baltimore, the result of a partnership between GRID, US DOE, the City of Baltimore, Baltimore Energy Challenge, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, and Morgan State University. We look forward to our continued partnership with DCSEU in 2017, working to achieving the the new Solar for All goal of serving 100,000 low-income families by the year 2032.

These projects are just a small part of something much larger, the push for America to take charge in the clean energy revolution. We do our part; we try and help each family gain access to clean, renewable energy. It is important to continue the progress we’ve made, making sure clean energy continues to grow in the Mid-Atlantic and around the country, and making sure that everyone, regardless of status, income, or race, can reap the benefits of solar energy.


Happy Birthday GRID Mid-Atlantic!
This week GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic is celebrating its 2nd year and no, it’s certainly not the terrible two’s! As you know, GRID Alternatives is a solar power non-profit. This allows us to work in the community and with the community. We leverage resources to make the biggest impact possible. We aim to add value to the industry, not compete with it. Working in low-income communities, we think it’s imperative to go the extra mile and create lasting relationships with our clients, volunteers, and job trainees. We are not just installing solar, but we are helping people stay in their homes. We educate on energy efficiency and connect homeowners with resources to use less energy. We make sure our clients understand their utility bills and can tell how much energy their solar panels are producing. We throw picnics. We are building ambassadors to spread the word. We want sons, daughters, husbands, wives, cousins, aunts, uncles, and neighbors to participate in our installations. We want to lift up job trainees and give them opportunities in this growing, impactful industry. GRID is also sophisticated. We understand project financing, policy, and the importance of data. We want to tell the world why what we do is so important. Our mission is that everyone has access to clean, renewable energy. Stay tuned to what year three will bring us! 

Nicole Steele with two new GRID employees
Nicole Steele with two new GRID employees

GRID did not slowdown in this summer heat! We had a big month with multiple high-profile events including taking 15 job trainees under our wings. We were so proud to have hosted both Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore and Mayor Muriel Bowser of DC; both providing stellar leadership supporting the new clean energy economy. In Baltimore, we’re exploring ways to make solar financing more accessible and in DC, the solar industry is poised to explode after the creation of the Solar for All program, designed to bring solar to 100,000 low-income residents in the next 15 years!

We’re looking at ways to make solar more accessible in the broad sense, but are also impacting individuals daily. My favorite part of the job is when I can tell a star job trainee we have a job for them; and I got to do that three times this month! We were able to bring on board three of our summer trainees that came from DOEE’s GZEP Solar Plus program. We’re all looking forward to them joining the team.

We’re also looking forward to the fall, perfect DC weather to break ground on our first two multi-family installations in the Mid-Atlantic. Much more to come, and can’t wait to see you on an install!



JULY 2016

Imagine 100,000 low-income DC residents with access to clean energy. The recently passed RPS legislation will make this vision a reality over the next fifteen years, by increasing the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2032. This includes a 5% solar carve-out, meaning that solar in DC is here to stay! GRID Alternatives is especially excited about the bill’s "Solar for All" initiative, which guarantees clean energy access to low-income families. We are proud to have taken a leadership role in getting this bill passed. 

To celebrate this major win for increased access to clean energy, we will wrap up July with a local solar installation, completed by our GZEP job trainees. GZEP has been an integral part of the GRID team this summer, helping complete our goal of nearly 50 installations in partnership with the Affordable Solar Program at DCSEU. These trainees are becoming competitive in today’s job market, by adding skills and certifications to their resumes. We are excited to give them the opportunity to learn about clean energy. At GRID Alternatives, we believe in #Solar4All!

JUNE 2016

Everyday at GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, we work under the belief that everyone should have access to clean energy. I recently visited one of our projects in Northeast DC where the Bundy family served up a hearty lunch for our job trainees and staff. It was a beautiful, solar perfect day to witness the graciousness of the homeowners, who will be saving money on electricity bills; meet their neighbors, who are already starting to see savings from a system we installed earlier in the year; and partake in the excitement of the youth job trainees, who were gaining solar installation skills for the first time, a perfect reminder why we do this work.

At the installation, we were also excited to host two reporters from The Atlantic resulting in: “What I Learned Installing Solar," by Julian Spector, and “Facing the Energy Burden” by Gloria Oh. The release of this wonderful article and video clip bookended The Atlantic’s Forum on Energy Equity. It was wonderful to see so many friends at the event. We look forward to the follow-up conversation in California! Check out a taping of the forum HERE.

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