Daily 49er

Nonprofit sheds light on low income homes in Long Beach

GRID Alternatives works to bring opportunities for students and energy to the community.

Mitsubishi+Green+Team+members+finish+intalling+solar+panels+on+a+home+in+North+Long+Beach+11%2F15.
Mitsubishi Green Team members finish intalling solar panels on a home in North Long Beach 11/15.

Mitsubishi Green Team members finish intalling solar panels on a home in North Long Beach 11/15.

Sabrina Flores | Daily 49er

Sabrina Flores | Daily 49er

Mitsubishi Green Team members finish intalling solar panels on a home in North Long Beach 11/15.

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Nonprofit organization GRID Alternatives partnered up with volunteers from the Mitsubishi Green Team Wednesday to bring solar energy to Ashlie Christy, a resident of North Long Beach.

“A lot of people need a little extra help with getting something like renewable energy,” said Danny Hom, development and communications associate. “So I think one of the ideas that drives us is this idea of energy equity in communities like Long Beach.”

The nonprofit has been working to make solar energy accessible to low-income families, servicing over 197 homes in the area, with this installation being their 198th. The goal is to bring clean, green energy to houseowners who cannot afford it on their own.

Hom compared the wait times between people in richer areas of Los Angeles to those in Long Beach.

“It will always be easy for people in really wealthy parts of Beverly Hills to have renewable energy but in an area like Long Beach the jobs and the solar might not come so quickly,” he said.

The organization opened its first office in 2007 with the intent to provide achievable solar energy to the Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.

Christy said she heard about the solar panel installation opportunity through someone else.

“Somebody I know had an installation done through GRID and they recommended them,” Christy said. “It takes a little patience, but it’s been really easy for us.”

Theresa Perez, an alumni of Cal State Long Beach and Development Associate for GRID Alternative, became involved with the nonprofit after graduating in 2015.

“What’s great about GRID is that it’s a great place to grow professionally,” Perez said. “All of our volunteers can grow not only with GRID but in the solar industry in general. A good chunk of our staff starts off as volunteers.”

Those who choose to volunteer do not need a background in construction or any experience.

“We’re rubbing elbows with people everyday who are just kind of interested in going into solar but they didn’t know what a career looked like,” Hom said. “And at GRID Alternatives tons of people have had an opportunity to go into construction through things like system design to administration.”

GRID Alternatives offers opportunities for students of Cal State Long Beach who are seeking hands-on experience in the solar industry. In the past year, GRID Alternatives has been reaching out to students in order to increase awareness of the opportunities they provide by attending the 2017 Ecofair and Green Generation Mixer. Their goal is to draw attention to the potential that many students may find within the volunteer opportunities and incorporate students into the community.

A member of the Mitsubishi Green Team and volunteer, Liz Lopez said installation solar panels was not a small nor easy task.

“I didn’t realize how much is all involved in it,” Lopez said. “I thought, oh, you just throw those panels up there and it’s done with but no there’s a lot involved in it.”

Volunteers and GRID Alternatives staff members at the event were excited to spread awareness about the volunteer program and anticipate the involvement Cal State Long Beach students.

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