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Things look bright for non-profit solar

Things are getting a little brighter for low-income families in California that want, but can’t afford, solar power.
Coming soon to the area, Power Up San Diego is a partnership between GRID Alternatives, Rebuilding Together, Just in Time for Foster Youth, and Center for Employment Training. It will soon bring solar power and other home repairs to five families in one neighborhood each week over a period of 15 weeks, while at the same time providing job skills training to 10 foster youth and other job trainees. It launches March 20.
But that’s not all, GRID alternatives is also offering a Construction Fellowship for a one-year term. Fellows will gain valuable experience in the solar and non-profit industry to help launch their career while making significant contributions to GRID Alternatives and the broader community. They earn hourly compensation at minimum wage ($8/hour), health and dental benefits, paid time off, continuing education opportunities, and an additional end of year award upon program completion. The construction fellow is a non-exempt, 40 hour per week position assisting the local construction team and project manager with solar installation, implementation, supply management and construction operations. The position is based out of Barrio Logan. A portion of the work will be conducted at city agencies and construction and residential sites throughout San Diego County.

SolarCorps was founded during the 2001 California energy crisis. It is part of GRID Alternatives, whose mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment, and training. GRID Alternatives provides these services exclusively to low-income households, including families, seniors, and persons with disabilities. GRID Alternatives, based out of Oakland, has offices across California as well as New York State and Colorado. It installs solar electric systems for low-income homeowners with volunteers and job trainees, enhancing long-term housing affordability for low-income households by reducing their energy costs, and expanding economic opportunity by providing skills and training in the growing field of solar electricity.
GRID Alternatives is the nation’s largest non-profit solar installation company. It recently expanded into international markets through an acquisition of Power to the People, a U.S.-based non-profit doing work in Nicaragua. The move will allow GRID Alternatives to bring its volunteer-based solar installation program to Latin America and beyond in the coming years.
In 2012 it reported assets of almost $10 million, with $33 million in income. That’s a lot of money. “It comes in and out the door,” said Julian Foley, company spokesman. The group has a long list of private and corporate donors, she said, and also gets funding from the California Public Utilities Commission. The public support is much appreciated, she said: “California is really the first state to make significant investment in solar power programs.”
Here’s a list of corporate donors it has in the Central Coast: Enphase Energy, First Solar, Holland & Knapp Construction, New Frontiers, San Luis Obispo, Pacific Gas & Electric, Rabobank, Solstice Green Directory, SunPower Corp., Suntech Power, Wells Fargo and Yingli Solar.
In addition to funding from the private sector, it gets donated and low-cost solar equipment, Foley said.
More than 4,000 families have benefited from GRID Alternative’s program to date, saving $110 million in lifetime electricity costs, and more than 14,000 people have received solar training. GRID Alternatives has nine offices throughout California, Colorado, and the New York Tri-State area, according to a published report in BusinessWire.
If you are a low-income homeowner and want to see if you qualify for a solar electric system for your home, please e-mail or call (866) 921-4696.

GRID Alternatives can be reached at

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