GRID Alternatives breaks ground on first low-income community solar project in California

GRID Alternatives Inland Empire (GRID IE), an affiliate of GRID Alternatives, is a national leader in making clean renewable energy technology and job training accessible to communities who need it most. GRID IE was awarded a $2.05 million grant under the California Department of Community Services and Development (CSD) Low-income Weatherization Program, Community Solar Pilot Program and recently broke ground on its largest community-scale solar project to date.

The nearly 1-megawatt solar electric system on the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation — California’s first low-income community solar project — is currently underway. This project will provide $5.4 million in savings to benefit low-income members of Anza Electrical Cooperative (AEC). AEC will offer bill credits to qualified low-income residents, enabling low income co-op members to significantly reduce their energy bills. They will also maintain full ownership and responsibility of the solar array and its output.

AEC is slated to do some electrical upgrades including installation of new power poles and transformers to support the influx of energy. According to the agreement with AEC, approximately 38 qualified low-income Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indian Tribal members and an additional 150 to 250 low-income AEC members within the boundaries of the cooperative will receive a credit offsetting their electric bills.

“We are excited to break ground on California’s first low-income community solar project. The partnership between the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, Anza Electric Cooperative and GRID Alternatives will provide clean energy, job training and bill savings to tribal members and the surrounding community who are not currently able to benefit from existing low-income solar programs. This is what makes this pilot community solar program so special, and we hope our success will provide a model for more community solar across California,” said GRID IE executive director Jaime Alonso.

The first phase of the project included site grading/clearing, erosion control, surveying, location staking, receiving of piles and some racking materials and pile driving. The second week of this phase will include continuation of pile driving, trenching, AC/DC sub work, receiving more equipment and materials and a site walk through to assess the progress.

According to commercial project manager Vanessa Lorrah, the project is expected to be complete in fall of 2020.

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