Community Partners to bring solar to Grass Valley families |

Community Partners to bring solar to Grass Valley families

Several struggling homeowners in Grass Valley will no longer have to choose between utility payments and other pressing family needs. Through a collaborative project between renewable energy non-profit GRID Alternatives and Nevada County Habitat for Humanity, volunteers and homeowners will be installing the first of many solar energy systems for low-income families challenged with high energy bills.

These low-income homeowners purchased their homes through Habitat's affordable home ownership program in 2002 and 2003. This project offers dedicated volunteers the opportunity to work side by side with families to provide solar energy and neighborhood renewal including low-maintenance landscaping and exterior repairs.

"Habitat is committed to a long term partnership with all of our homeowners," said Debbie Arakel, executive director of Nevada County Habitat. "We have learned a lot along the way, and this project enables us to apply that learning to improve this neighborhood."

While the program provides a significant savings, GRID Alternatives' program benefits more than just homeowners.

"We know the savings solar provides will be a tremendous relief for these families and a long-lasting investment in a family's self-sufficiency," said Rebekah Casey of GRID Alternatives. "It also generates clean energy for the grid, and provides a unique opportunity for hands-on training in the solar industry."

One household will be saving nearly $50,000 over the lifetime of the system. GRID Alternatives' program supports local green jobs training, by providing no-cost hands-on solar installation opportunities for corporate teams, community volunteers and job training organizations like Sierra College. On Friday March 22,, a team of Sierra College students will begin the solar installation work and on Saturday, the systems will be completed with a large UNFI, Inc. corporate team.

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Individuals interested in participating in upcoming solar installations can attend the upcoming volunteer orientation at Sierra College's Grass Valley Solar Classroom facility from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on April 3. For more information, contact GRID Alternatives North Valley office, at 530-217-6154 or email

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