Barnhill Family Become Broadway Heights' 104th Residents to go Solar!


October 15, 2018
The Barnhills outside their home on the day of their solar installation

The Barnhill family have been residents of San Diego for over 50 years. Originally from North Carolina, Ralph and Katie Barnhill have always been committed to their community as well as the environment, eventually moving to the Broadway Heights neighborhood. Mr. Barnhill served in the Air Force and as an Aerospace Engineer for General Dynamics.   

When Mr. Barnhill passed away a few years ago, the Barnhill’s daughter, Carla moved in with her mother to help her out.  She noticed immediately her mother’s utility bills were enormous, even though Mrs. Barnhill was receiving a medical baseline allowance.  But with a 30 year old air conditioning unit and being charged 55 cents per kilowatt after the baseline adjustment, the average Barnhill utility bill was still $600 per month! Unfortunately, unpredictable and high utility bills are a reality for many low-income families.  Carla turned to GRID Alternatives, an organization that she knew her father had held in high regard.

The Barnhill installation provided an inspiring glimpse of how supportive the Broadway Heights community is when it comes to solar. The Community Council Chair, Robert Robinson, and his wife Barbara were on hand for the event. “This is the 104th install in Broadway Heights,” Mr. Robinson said, pointing out several of the Barnhill’s neighbors who were also GRID clients.  

The Barnhill family with Paul Cleary of GRID and Robert Robinson

Mr. Robinson and Mr. Barnhill played key roles in bringing awareness to the importance of solar, not only to Broadway Heights, but also to the entire state of California.  And the California State Assembly continues to take notice with Chevelle Tate in attendance at the Barnhill installation, representing Senator Toni Atkins and the 39th District.  Ms. Tate presented certificates to thank GRID Alternatives and the trainees working to install solar on the Barnhill's house.

Andre, the Barnhill’s grandson, shares his family’s enthusiasm about the environment. “I’ve always been a fan of renewable energy since I was little.  Why not?”” said Andre. He recounted when awareness of global warming began to gain momentum in the 90s. “I always knew I wanted to do something that would contribute to keeping our earth healthy.”

Andre took a path similar to his grandfather by majoring in Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.  He has gone on to work in sales engineering for electrical vehicle charging systems as well as interning on a project monitoring C02 admissions.  For Andre, his family’s interaction with GRID and solar installation is just an overall step in the right direction.

“It’s nice to see the impact GRID is having on the community,” Andre’s mother, Carla, chimed.  “Moving towards solar is revolutionary for the US and the world.” Carla is also excited about future regulations that will require solar on new buildings and the boom of car manufacturers moving towards electrical cars.  She envisions a world of solar powered homes with electrical car stations. Panel by panel, GRID is moving towards making her dreams a reality!

See a full album of photos from the day!