GRID Alternatives San Diego reached a major milestone with its 1000th solar installation on October 3 and continued their commitment of providing solar to underserved communities. The event was celebrated by the GRID San Diego team, local press and the Mendoza family, GRID San Diego’s newest client.
The overcast day didn’t dampen Oscar Mendoza’s spirits. A first time homeowner, Mr. Mendoza has been excited about homeownership since he migrated to the San Diego area from Mexico 15 years ago. “Home ownership represented the ‘American Dream’,” said Mr. Mendoza. “It was a chance to leave a legacy for my son, Jonathan.”
GRID Alternatives is committed to leaving its own legacy in the ever growing solar industry through an inclusive vision of successfully transitioning to clean, renewable energy while providing long term relief from high and unpredictable energy bills. The Energy For All Program (formerly the Solar Affordable Homes Program) directly serves communities struggling with unemployment and environmental inequality by helping families reduce their electricity costs by up to 90% and providing job training in solar installation.
It was no easy feat getting GRID Alternatives San Diego to its 1000th install. Executive Director, Paul Cleary reflected on how it took 6 months, after opening its doors in 2008, to get to the first installation “The team had to borrow people from GRID’s Los Angeles office,” he fondly remembers. “We celebrated with a pizza party to load the truck.” Now the GRID team has installed 14,000 panels across San Diego and helped 1000 families save on their bills. As Mr. Cleary pointed out, “The work GRID has done across San Diego will help families save $28 million over the next 20 years. This is money that can stay in the community.”
“It’s this long term investment that makes GRID so unique from other organizations,” pointed out Outreach Coordinator, Clovis Honoré. He encourages moving beyond typical phrases such as “underserved” in order to create new terms and new ideas for GRID Alternatives families and communities for generations to come.
And the potential for solar in low-income communities is huge! Almost half of the US homes in these areas are solar-compatible. Mr Mendoza, a Customer Service Representative in the optical field, recognized the impact solar was having on his community when he and his family sought out their new home about 7 months ago. He really liked the prospective house, but noticed, unlike some of the other homes in the area, it didn’t have solar. Mr. Mendoza didn’t think there was anyway he could afford these upgrades, so his real estate agent recommended GRID Alternatives.
Irasema Garcia, recently promoted Director of Equity, Inclusion & Diversity, also first discovered GRID as a homeowner.“I have had my system for 6 years, have only paid a bill for 4 years, and have gotten my annual bill down to less than $65.” Ms. Garcia is not only concerned with the global environment but also creating a better working environment for GRID staff and volunteers. GRID’s unique design gives community members and job trainees hands on experience with solar power. “A classroom on the roof,” the training offers renewable energy technology and installation training to high school groups, community colleges, and individuals lacking degrees or certificates.
Ingrid Murillo, who started at GRID as a volunteer and is now part of the Workforce Department, has seen the benefits of the training firsthand. One of her fellow volunteers went from the GRID training program to owning his own solar company. “This is my passion,” said Ingrid. “Moving towards environmental justice and helping people fulfill their dreams in the solar industry.”
Little did Mr. Mendoza know, that call he placed a few months ago would lead to GRID Alternative’s 1000th install in San Diego in addition to keeping him on track for his American Dream. Mr. Mendoza has big plans for the money he will save with solar. “It was really important to save money for my son’s future,” he reflected. “Solar is a big plus for my family and much better for the environment. I want to do my part so my kid will have a better world to live in.” Mr. Mendoza is committed to using the savings he receives from solar to fund his son’s college education. Here’s to a brighter future for little Jonathan and all the GRID Alternatives’ families!