18 Atchison Village homes go solar at Solarthon

Photos contributed by GRID Alternatives

Over 100 volunteers descended upon Atchison Village in Richmond on Saturday to install solar electric systems on 18 homes as part of GRID Alternatives’ 14th Annual Solarthon block party and fundraiser.

The volunteers represented individual sponsors, corporate teams, job trainees, community members and the families who are transitioning to solar.

A Solarthon is similar to a walkathon where individuals raise money for the event through their personal networks, while corporations sponsor homes for their employee volunteers. It’s the largest solar installation event of the year for GRID Alternatives, a Bay Area-based nonprofit that has installed nearly 500 systems in Richmond alone and is planning to install 45 more by the end of the year as part of a longstanding partnership with the city.

Bay Area-wide, over 1,900 families-to-date have gone solar thanks to the nonprofit.

Saturday’s recipients of new solar systems began saving about 75 percent on their electricity bills from day one, according to GRID Alternatives.

“The installations are expected to save the families $228,000 over the 25-year lifetime of the systems and prevent 430 tons of carbon emissions,” the nonprofit said.

One of the homeowners who received a new solar system, Zak Wear, said the savings will help pay student loans as he works as a public school teacher.

“I really appreciate the service GRID is providing, it’s made a transformative impact in Atchison Village, especially for the seniors in our community,” Wear said in a statement by the nonprofit.

Also benefiting from the solar installations are job trainees. Mohammad Sharififard, who got his start volunteering for GRID Alternatives and is now an installer at a local solar company, was a volunteer on Saturday. Sharififard is one of nearly 7,300 people trained in solar installation by the nonprofit.

 “Solarthon really brings everyone together to work toward a common goal: a transition to clean energy that includes and benefits all our communities,” said Renee Sharp, Regional Director for GRID Alternatives’ Bay Area office.

Added Richmond Vice Mayor Ben Choi, “The City recognizes the link between generating local clean energy and improving community health, that’s why we invest City funding in these programs.”

Local sponsors include Google, Sunrun and KPMG, national supporters include Wells Fargo and Bank of America, equipment partners inlcude SunPower, Enphase Energy, and Jinko Solar, and event sponsors include Marin Clean Energy, Wexus Technologies, and Burnham Nationwide.

For more information about GRID Alternatives, go here.