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GRID Alternatives to manage state residential solar program

Program helps low-income homeowners go solar

Posted: July 15, 2009 1:39 p.m.
Updated: July 15, 2009 2:47 p.m.
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- GRID Alternatives, a non-profit organization bringing solar equipment, training and resources to low income families, has been selected by the California Public Utilities Commission to provide program management services for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program.

As Program Manager for SASH, GRID Alternatives will directly market, finance, design, engineer and install small (1-3 kW) solar photovoltaic systems for low-income homeowners in the Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) electric utility service territories.

GRID Alternatives is now accepting applications for the SASH Program.

Since 2001, GRID Alternatives has been working to bring the power of solar electricity and energy efficiency to low-income homeowners, and to provide community members with training and hands-on experience with renewable energy technologies.

Piloted in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004, GRID Alternatives' flagship Solar Affordable Housing Program trains and leads teams of community volunteers and low income job trainees to install solar electric systems for low income homeowners in Northern and Southern California.

To date, GRID Alternatives has trained more than 2,000 volunteers to install over 230 solar PV systems for low income families throughout the state. These systems are reducing each family's electric bills by approximately 75%, which will translate to a total of $3.8 million in energy cost savings over the systems' projected life spans, while preventing roughly 11,507 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

"The SASH program is a groundbreaking initiative that will bring solar energy to thousands of low income single-family homeowners throughout California, and hopefully will serve as a model for other states," said Molly Tirpak Sterkel, manager of the California Public Utilities Commission's solar program.

"We chose GRID Alternatives to manage this program because of its expertise and proven track record in orchestrating the installation of solar electric systems for low income families," Sterkel said. "GRID Alternatives' existing network of partnerships, combined with its very hands-on approach, will be crucial to the success of this program."

GRID Alternatives was selected as the SASH Program Manager via a competitive Request for Proposals process that evaluated the organization's housing partnerships, financial partnerships, technical expertise, education, job training, and history of serving low income Californians.

The SASH program will provide qualifying low income homeowners with access to photovoltaic (PV) solar installations to decrease electricity usage and bills without increasing monthly household expenses.

In addition to providing low income homeowners with reduced electricity bills, the SASH Program will also benefit the communities it serves by leveraging local green job training and workforce development programs to assist with installing the solar systems.

To qualify for the SASH program, applicants must meet the following requirements:
-- Be a customer of PG&E, SCE, or SDG&E
-- Occupy residence (no rental homes)
-- Have a household income which is 80% or less of the area median income (AMI)
-- Live in a California Public Utilities Code 2852-compliant affordable home

"Through the SASH Program, we'll be able to extend our services to a much wider audience of qualified low income family homeowners in California," said Tim Sears, P.E., Program Director and Co-Founder of GRID Alternatives.

"We're thrilled about that because we believe that making energy choices that are good for the environment can go hand-in-hand with improving the lives of those living in low income communities," Sears said. "This is particularly important in today's economy where so many low income homeowners are struggling to keep up with their monthly expenses."

About GRID Alternatives
Founded in 2001, GRID Alternatives is an Oakland-based nonprofit organization that provides renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training. GRID Alternatives' flagship Solar Affordable Housing Program trains and leads teams of community volunteers, corporate work-teams and low-income job trainees to install solar electric systems for low-income homeowners in Northern and Southern California. To date, GRID Alternatives has installed more than 230 systems for low-income families throughout California with the help of more than 2,000 volunteers and low-income job trainees trained on the theory and practice of solar electric installation. These systems reduce each family's electric bill by 75 percent, translating to more than $3.8 million worth of energy cost savings over the systems' projected life span. To learn more, visit gridalternatives.org.

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