In November, seven Habitat for Humanity homes in Riverside County will come with a special amenity: solar panels.
The homes, built in the Old Town section of Temecula to house needy families, will get their solar power systems during a "solarthon" sponsored by GRID Alternatives, a Bay Area nonprofit that, thanks to grants, installs solar power systems in communities in need. At the same time, installation crews are manned by workers who get valuable on-the-job training in the solar industry field. And reduced energy costs provide some relief to families grappling with economic struggles.
GRID Alternatives' work isn't limited to Riverside County. The organization has worked to bring solar to its home base in the Bay Area, as well as the greater Los Angeles area, San Diego, and the rest of the Inland Empire, among other locations.
Recently, a family in south Los Angeles received a solar power system from the nonprofit, one of 450 GRID Alternatives has installed in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Orange counties. The installation was made possible with the help of Los Angeles-based Angeleno Group, which invests in clean energy.
Households can qualify for the organization's Solar Affordable Housing program, in which solar systems are installed at low or no cost, if they are based in California or Colorado. Homeowners in California must make 80% of their region's median income, and also qualify for the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes program.
If a homeowner's application is accepted, GRID Alternatives representatives will visit the home to ensure photovoltaic solar will work there, and then design the appropriate system.
In addition to the participants in job-training programs, solar installations are also completed by volunteers, who receive training during an orientation.