Many of you have been following the work we’ve done together with Grid Alternatives, an Oakland based nonprofit that has—working with community partners like Habitat and us—created a unique model of gifting solar electric systems to low-income families throughout California.
And it’s a model that was just too good to keep in one state! So we put our construction thinking hats on, and tried to figure out how we could expand it to other areas and really strive for a national expansion. After many meetings and assessments, we concluded that Colorado—with its more than 300 days of sunshine a year and solar-friendly culture, consisting of more than 1,000 independent solar partners, a 30% Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) for the state by 2020, and willing Wells Fargo Green Team members—was the natural next place to roll out this incredible program.
As a result, Wells Fargo has provided Grid Alternatives with a $2MM grant over the next 5 years to help them expand to other markets across the country!
By the end of September 2012, we’d been able to make all of the pieces of the puzzle come together, and successfully installed solar PV systems on 12 homes just outside of Denver in Lakewood, Colo., on Habitat for Humanity homes.
While I was volunteering to install panels—and again while touring the site recently—so many things struck me about how unique this program is. Together, we successfully:
- Gained media attention from across the state
- Engaged with work force groups like Veterans Green Jobs, who volunteered and shared their expertise on site all week
- Worked with local officials, utilities, and solar industry leaders, who all came out to tour the site
And talk about the social and environmental impact too:
- $360,000 in savings for the families over the life of the systems (about $1,000 per month)1
- The equivalent of planting 30,000 trees over the life of the systems2
- A soon-to-open, permanently staffed Grid Alternatives affiliate office in Colorado
All in all, Grid Alternatives has had quite a year, and we’re proud to have been with them each step along the way! They’ve expanded outside of California into Colorado, and they’ll be celebrating 1,000 solar installs in 2012 alone—that brings them to more than 2,500 families served to date. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?
Of course, none of this would have been possible without all of the support from our wonderful community partners and especially to our team members, who dedicate time to make a difference in the community.
And hey, we’re just getting started! Look for a Grid Alternatives project coming your way in the future!
1 Source: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
2 Source: Grid Alternatives. FYI, the savings number is a calculation based on average sun hours, the current price of electricity, the 10 years of incentive payments from Xcel, and the anticipated degradation of the systems over time. It’s based on an expected 30-year system lifetime.