Jun 2, 2015
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Another Richmond home was outfitted with a rooftop solar system as part of a partnership involving GRID Alternatives, Chevron Richmond volunteers and students in the RichmondBUILD career-training program.

In two days, Gilda and Bill Harrell’s home at 128 s 3rd St. received a free solar system installation as part of a program by GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit that works to bring solar energy to low-income families.

The installation included 12 panels with one string inverter for the entire system in order to optimize power, said Bret Carr, a workforce development manager for GRID Alternatives.

GRID.6-2-2The solar panel system will provide the household an average reduction of 80-percent in monthly electric bills, officials said.

On Friday, students in RichmondBUILD, the nonprofit job training program that places a large majority of its grads in positions with an average starting wage of $18.33 per hour, received hands-on experience and instruction while beginning the installation (see photo below).

GRID.6-2-3Then on Saturday, a group of Chevron Richmond volunteers took over the installation, which was a bit more daunting than average homes since the house features a steeply slanted roof.

The Harrells said signing up for the free solar installation was a no-brainer.

“We were researching solar, but we really couldn’t afford it, it’s pretty expensive,” Bill Harrell said. “But we wanted to be environmentally-friendly and save money. So when this opened up with GRID, we were some of the first ones to sign up.”

Bill Harrell had already been to a solar installation and had watched RichmondBUILD trainees at work, which he said was inspiring.

“I was watching how they were training these people,” he said. “There’s so much need in the neighborhood.”

GRID.6-2-1The Harrells thanked Daryl Henline of Bridge Storage in Richmond for informing them of the opportunity.

As important as the job training is the positive impact the solar systems are having on the environment. Since 2004, GRID Alternatives has installed roughly 150 solar systems in West County and well over 1,000 in the Bay Area, according to its project map. Bay Area-wide, those installations have prevented more than 84,110 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

For those seeking more information on eligibility for free solar installation and how to apply, visit GRID Alternatives here.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.