CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


Clean Power The homeowner, Alex Soto, and a job trainee, Carol Bessel from Red Rocks Community College – Courtesy Grid Alternatives

Published on April 29th, 2014 | by Roy L Hales

2

Grid Alternatives Launches National Women In Solar Initiative

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

April 29th, 2014 by
 

Originally published in the ECOreport.

Brittany Traucht from Ecotech institute –  Courtesy Grid Alternatives

Brittany Traucht from Ecotech institute – Courtesy Grid Alternatives

Grid Alternatives grew out of California’s 2001 energy crises. It is a non-profit organization that leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar panels for low income home owners. They currently do 1,000 installations a year out of their California, Denver, and New York offices. Thanks to a philanthropic donation of $1.2 million by SunEdison, they have just started a national series of “WE Build” women-only installations. This program started with two WE Builds in Denver on April 25.

This was something that was special to Dawn Brister, who works in corporate communications for SunEdison. She was in a team of female executives that included people from Wells Fargo and Prologis. Speaking as a woman, in what is still a very male dominated industry, she appreciated the chance to go up on a roof and do an installation.

The homeowner, Alex Soto, and a job trainee, Carol Bessel from Red Rocks Community College – Courtesy Grid Alternatives

The homeowner, Alex Soto, and a job trainee, Carol Bessel from Red Rocks Community College – Courtesy Grid Alternatives

Dawn said it “sounds cheesy,” but the thing that really gets her out of bed in the morning is the times when she could see the impact her job is making on people’s lives. In this case, Dawn got to see one of the families and help install some solar panels.

The other team was composed of job trainees from Red Rocks Community College, Colorado MountainCollege, and Ecotech Institute.

The women worked from 8:30 am until 3:00 pm. One of the homeowners, a roofer named Alex Soto, joined “his” crew. He is used to female company, having four daughters – the oldest of which sometimes works for him.

Alex and his wife, Anna Maria, have being trying to go solar for years, but could not afford it. Anna Maria works part-time for the federal food stamp program. She is trying to find full time work and hopes to go back to school.

Grid Alternatives is putting a 3 kW AC system on their roof, which is expected to save them almost $1,100 a year in energy savings.
The other solar recipients were a pair of elderly women, Josephine Frazer and Florence Sanchez, who had previously looked into installing solar but found it too expensive.

Grid Alternatives is putting a 2.4 kW AC system on their roof, which is expected to save them close to $900 a year in energy savings.

Most families pocket around $1,000, which can come in handy for a low income family. More than 4,200 families have benefited from Grid Alternatives work, saving $114 million in lifetime electricity costs.

A professional installer would probably have finished by the end of the day, but these women were mostly beginners and the most important thing was doing the job correctly. Another group of volunteers, or Grid staff, will finish this job off.

Mary Burke from Red Rocks Community College on the left and Brittany Traucht on the right – Courtesy Grid Alternatives

Mary Burke from Red Rocks Community College on the left and Brittany Traucht on the right – Courtesy Grid Alternatives

Grid Alternatives National Women in Solar initiative is designed to foster women’s voices, talents, and leadership in an industry that is growing by 20% a year. Key elements of this initiative include:

  • Hands-on training for 1,000 women next year.
  • Paid internships for 20 women through Grid’s SolarCorp Program.
  • A national series of WE Build women-only installation events, including some that bring together top executives and up-and-coming professionals.
  • A national series of networking events for women in the industry.
  • A series of webinars highlighting women working in various aspects of the solar industry.

It is a program that both Dawn Brister and her employer, SunEdison CEO Ahmad Chatila, are very supportive of.

Many of the people who work on a Grid Alternatives installation think of it as an isolated event. Others get hooked on it and keep coming back. Others use the experience as job training. Nearly 16,000 have volunteered.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Print Friendly

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

is the editor of the ECOreport (www.theecoreport.com), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of North America and writes for both Clean Techncia and PlanetSave. He is a research junkie who has written hundreds of articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.



  • LookingForward

    Is sexism against women still that bad in the US?!?
    I mean, if women want to become a pv installer, get the education for it, do an internship if neccasary and get the job. So what if there are more man in this industry?
    If they got the know how, I’m shure they can get a job.
    My experience here in Holland is that women-only-events are for men-haters and lesbians to get a date. (I’m not being sexist, I’m friends with a few lesbians and they search out these events)
    If that’s the case in the US, I think it’s just a waste of money or sexist against men.
    I mean if they’re going in an industry that has more men then women in it, they should learn to get over there preconsaptions, right?
    Or am I missing something?
    This is a serieus question, to anyone.

  • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

    Love this. :D

Back to Top ↑