With the world struggling to cut emissions, home energy use is a key area that must be addressed. GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles, is working to help homeowners bridge the gap by providing the elusive solar power. The main aim of the organization is to help low- to medium-income homes access solar, initial investment costs notwithstanding.
According to Danny Hom, the external affairs manager at GRID Alternatives, heavy initial investment cost is the main reason why most families are unwilling to install power. On top of that, families also have to think about the cost of maintenance. GRID Alternatives now helps families install solar panels and offer maintenance at zero cost to qualifying families.
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“To a working-class family, stretching that dollar that they might have been paying for an electric bill, that can go towards savings for retirement, a better car, just a tank of gas, college tuition…whatever working-class families need,” Hom said.
The organization has already installed solar power on more than 2,000 households in Los Angeles and is still carrying out more projects. The biggest challenge has been that few people believe that solar panels could be installed and maintained for free. With the cost of solar installation above the income of most families, the gap remains big.
“We want to fortify this community so that people living here can live their best and healthiest lives, and we want to put something directly in their custody and in their pocketbooks,” Hom said.
“We’re not here to try and force people to sign up, but we believe if we’re able to empower them with the correct information they’re going to sign up themselves,” Nick Boateng of GRID Alternatives said.
One of the beneficiaries of the project, Maria Madrigal, says that she has seen a significant reduction in her electricity bills since installing solar. She admits to having lowered her bill from above $700 to less than $15 just by using solar power. “My electricity bill? It was $14,” she said with a laugh.
Although GRID does not force anyone to sign up for the program, it is still trying to reach out to qualifying families to apply. If you live in Los Angeles and would like to apply, check out the requirements on GRID’s application page.
Ashley Christy, GRID’s executive director of great L.A., said “It shouldn’t be, ‘How am I going to put food on my table because I’m paying all these high bills?’ We should have solutions that help people stay in their homes and help move towards the future.”
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