Tom Butt Header E-Forum
  E-Mail Forum – 2013  
  < RETURN  
  Nonprofit Installs Solar Panels on Inner-City Homes in Richmond
September 9, 2013

Nonprofit installs solar panels on inner-city homes in Richmond
By Mark Boyer
Contra Costa Times
Posted:   09/09/2013 11:45:02 AM PDT | Updated:   about 8 hours ago

RICHMOND -- A big smile spread across Raul Valencia's face as he watched volunteer workers prepare to install solar panels on his house. The Valencias were one of eight families in Richmond's Iron Triangle neighborhood to receive a free rooftop solar installation Saturday as part of the eighth annual Bay Area Solarthon.
"It's going to make me save a lot of money, so I can start saving for my kids," said Valencia, who has three children.
His oldest just started high school. He said that if the materials and labor had not been donated, he wouldn't have been able to afford it.
"And also, to help out the planet," he said.
When work is completed, each family's electric bill is expected to drop 75 percent. In sum, the eight families should save $148,000 in the 30-year lifetime of the systems, according to installers.
The Solarthon was organized by Grid Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that brings solar energy to low-income families. Grid Alternatives analyzed each home's energy use to determine what type of system each family needs.
The eight panels on Valencia's roof were donated by SunPower, and they retail for about $10,000 total. The event's other major sponsor, Yingli Solar, also donated equipment.
Valencia first became curious about solar energy when he noticed Grid Alternatives installing solar panels on his neighbor's roof. "It's very visible, so your neighbors will ask about it, and word of mouth¿ gets around pretty quickly," said Johannes Copeland, a retired Marine Corps officer who served as the installation team leader at Valencia's home.
Grid Alternatives began installing solar systems in Richmond in 2007, and it has installed 116 systems in the city so far, not counting the eight from this year's Solarthon. The group also partners with local job-training organizations, providing hands-on technical experience.
The organizers intend to help the environment and to help families in economically depressed neighborhoods build wealth.
Work was briefly interrupted at one of the eight sites when gunshots were fired in an adjacent alley, and volunteers were forced to come down from the roof. "Unfortunate distraction, but it kind of highlights why this stuff is so important," said Grid Alternatives co-founder Tim Sears, watching as police officers arrived on the scene.
"This is a movement," said Otheree Christian, president of the Iron Triangle Neighborhood Council.
Grid Alternatives installed a solar system on the home of Christian's 78-year-old mother this spring, and he said it's saving her more than $100 per month in energy costs.
"It's helping those who really can't afford it and are just making ends meet every month."
This article was produced by RichmondConfidential.org, a nonprofit news service based in the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.


Want to receive TOM BUTT E-FORUM and other action alerts on Richmond political and community issues delivered to your email address? Email your name and email address and/or the names and email addresses of others who would like to be placed on the mailing list and the message "subscribe" to tom.butt@intres.com. Comments, arguments and corrections are welcome.  Tom Butt is a member of the Richmond City Council   when opinions and views expressed, without other attribution, in TOM BUTT E-FORUM, they are those of Tom Butt and do not reflect official views or positions of the City of Richmond or the Richmond City Council unless otherwise noted. Visit the Tom Butt website for additional information about Tom Butt's activities on the Richmond City Council: http://www.tombutt.com.  Phone 510/236-7435 or 510/237-2084. Subscription to this service is at the personal discretion of the recipient and may be terminated by responding with “unsubscribe.” It may take a few days to remove addresses from the distribution list.

This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

To the extent that content is excerpted under the fair use doctrine from other media, I urge readers to subscribe to the print versions of these media to help support professional journalism and the businesses that publish news, and I urge readers to log in to the online versions to access additional content, related content and unrelated news. I especially appreciate local sources of news that include the Contra Costa Times , the San Francisco Chronicle, Richmond Confidential and the East Bay Express.