G R I D Alternatives
One Rooftop at a Time
gas emissions prevented
in our first five years
GRID Alternatives empowers communities in
need through renewable energy and energy
efficiency services, equipment and training.
GRID Alternatives was founded in 2001 by Erica Mackie, P.E.,
and Tim Sears, P.E., two engineering professionals who were
implementing large-scale renewable energy and energy
efficiency projects for the private sector. They wanted
to develop a model to make this technology practical for
low-income communities that need the savings the most.
This model became GRID Alternatives’ flagship Solar Affordable
Housing Program, which trains and leads teams of community
volunteers and job trainees to install solar electric systems in
partnership with low-income families. This program was piloted
in 2004 with two installations in the San Francisco Bay Area, and
five years later has grown to over 200 installations throughout
California. We work in partnership with local governments and
with nonprofit housing developers like Habitat for Humanity.
Lawrence Jackson worked with GRID Alternatives to install
solar panels on his home, not just to lower his bills but also,
as he says, “to help the environment — I want to be part of
the solution, not part of the problem.” Eighty years old but
“always ready to learn something new”, he now volunteers
to help his neighbors go solar, and enjoys the camaraderie
that develops between neighbors and volunteers as much
as he loves saving money and energy. When you work
with GRID Alternatives, says Lawrence, “you’re working
together. It all comes together like a beautiful puzzle.”
The systems we’ve
installed in our first
five years will generate
worth of clean,
renewable power for
Our projects bring the savings from solar
power directly to low-income families.
We believe that environmental and economic sustainability must
go hand-in-hand, particularly in low-income neighborhoods
that have been hit hardest by high energy prices and utility
rate shocks, unemployment, foreclosure, and in many cases also
pollution fossil-fuel power plants.
GRID Alternatives works directly with low-income homeowners
throughout the process, both through community education and
by involving our clients directly in their own installations. Most
of our clients contribute “sweat equity” either by participating
directly in the installation process as their abilities allow, or by
helping spread the word to their friends and neighbors about
the benefits of solar.
Donna Levey was a foster mother until she adopted two
special-needs children, Dolan and Dylan, whose medical
conditions “require at least three loads of laundry every day,
seven days a week.” Since GRID Alternatives installed a solar
electric system on her home, Donna has seen a dramatic
reduction in her electricity bills, and is using the savings to
buy the boys memberships to the San Francisco Zoo and the
California Academy of Sciences. “I remember my parents
taking me to the Academy when I was their age,” says Donna,
and can now pass on those same experiences to her kids.
and low-income job trainees
on the theory and practice of
We install solar with volunteers, job
trainees, and the homeowners themselves.
GRID Alternatives’ experienced solar installation staff train
and lead teams of participants from many backgrounds—from
environmentalists who want to fight climate change, to job
trainees looking for access to the “green jobs” of tomorrow,
to do-it-yourselfers interested in learning how solar works, to
low-income community members trying to save money on their
bills while building a cleaner future for their kids.
We then bring these diverse individuals together to participate in
hands-on, educational projects – the equivalent of a renewable
energy “barn raising” —that fight climate change and poverty
on the local level. As a result, these projects help build broad-
based environmental leadership that crosses economic, cultural
and geographic lines, while serving as tangible evidence that
solar is a practical, mainstream environmental and economic
solution for all of our communities.
Taulafo “Lafo” Laulu graduated from a community job training
program for low-income workers looking to break into the
solar industry, but struggled to find employment with no
direct experience on his resume. GRID Alternatives gave Lafo
the opportunity to gain hands-on experience on all aspects
of solar electric installation, and now he installs solar for
San Francisco-based Occidental Power. “I worked warehouse
for twenty years, but never had much money in my pocket.
My life is much better now that I made a career change.”
G R I D Alternatives
Your support makes this all possible.
For more information on how to get involved,
please visit www.gridalternatives.org.
Our Major Supporters Include:
Public Partners Corporate and Foundation Donors
California Public Utilities Commission Body Shop Foundation Salesforce.com Foundation
City of Huntington Park Dow Chemical Company Foundation San Francisco Foundation
City of Inglewood Full Circle Fund SunPower
City of Livermore Google Taproot Foundation
City of Pleasanton Home Depot Foundation Union Bank of California Foundation
City of Richmond John C. and Katherine T. Harvey Foundation Wachovia Foundation
Corporation for National and Community Service Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund Wal-Mart Foundation
County of San Mateo Mitchell Kapor Foundation Weingart Foundation
Oakland Redevelopment Agency Pacific Gas & Electric Corporation Wells Fargo Foundation
San Francisco Department of the Environment Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund Winston & Strawn, LLP
Individual Donors: Our work is supported by a growing community of over 1,000 individual donors, at levels ranging from $5 to $10,000
Additional Supporters: Atomic Public Relations • CH2M Hill • ClifBar • City of El Monte • ENVIRON Corporation • Franklin Weinberg Fund • IBEW Local 595
Innovalight • OnGrid Solar • Patagonia San Francisco • Renewable Ventures • RMC Water and Environment • Schneider Electric/Square D Company
Seguin Woodworks • Solmetric • City of San Carlos • SolarCity • Sybase, Inc. • Washington Mutual • Whole Foods Market • and many more...
On behalf of all of us at GRID Alternatives, thank you.
Bay Area Greater Los Angeles San Diego Central Valley
3833 Manila Avenue 969 Sandhill Avenue 1827 Main Street, Suite 200 3260 W. Lansing Way
Oakland, CA 94609 Carson, CA 90746 San Diego, CA 92113 Fresno, CA 93722
(510) 652-4730 (310) 324-8146 (619) 239-4743 (559) 261-4743
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