• For those with wings fly to your dreams

    About GRID Alternatives

    Since I did this 2 years ago when I did my first year of Americorps, it's only right I give GRID Alternatives the same attention.  GRID is awesome and while I love OTX West forevermore, this non-profit is related to my career a bit more.  Once again another non-profit found by not 1 but 2 engineers!  We are an awesome cut of cloth.

    GRID Alternatives' mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training. We believe making energy choices that are good for the environment can go hand-in-hand with improving the lives of those living in low-income communities. GRID Alternatives works collaboratively with communities and local organizations to identify specific needs and to develop renewable energy solutions that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.
    Currently, GRID Alternatives' core program is the Solar Affordable Housing Program, where we train and lead community volunteers and job trainees from all walks of life to install solar electric systems with low-income homeowners.


    GRID Alternatives was founded during the 2001 California energy crisis by Erica Mackie, P.E., and Tim Sears, P.E., two engineering professionals who were implementing large-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for the private sector. The vision that drove them was simple: why is free, clean electricity from the sun only available to big businesses and wealthy environmentalists, when it should be available to everybody? They wanted to develop a model to make this technology practical and accessible for low-income communities that need the savings the most, and where families often live in the shadow of polluting fossil-fuel power plants.Every solar installation is a renewable energy “barn raising” that brings together environmental activists, advocates for low-income communities, green job trainees, community volunteers, and the homeowners themselves to participate in a fun, hands-on project that delivers immediate, tangible results: a fully installed solar electric system that provides immediate economic benefits to a local low-income family.
    Tim and Erica's work creating GRID Alternatives was recognized in 2010 when they were honored with a James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award for advancing "innovative, proven and replicable solutions to critical issues facing California":

    Solar Affordable Housing Program
    GRID Alternatives believes that economic and environmental sustainability must go hand-in-hand, particularly in California’s low-income communities that have been hit hardest by unemployment, recession, and pollution. Our flagship Solar Affordable Housing Program trains and leads teams of job trainees and other community members to install solar electric systems for low-income families throughout California. Every project generates “triple bottom line” results: measurable, long-term financial benefits for low-income families struggling to keep up with monthly expenses; real-world, hands-on experience for local workers in the growing field of solar installation; and environmental benefits by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and building support for solar power as a mainstream solution for all of our communities.
    GRID Alternatives is a both a nonprofit organization and a licensed solar installer. We install solar electric systems exclusively for low-income families, and we do it in a way that engages everyone in the solution.  GRID Alternatives provides the system design and engineering, obtains building permits, procures equipment, prepares and submits rebate and utility interconnection paperwork, and provides an industry-standard 10-year labor warranty.  We then go beyond that to make sure we are engaging and educating families, helping them install energy efficiency and weatherization measures before they go solar, providing hands on experience to local job trainees, and educating the broader community about the benefits of solar power and its intersection with jobs and economic justice. These services are typically provided without charge to the homeowners through the financial support of the SASH incentive or other solar incentive programs, local government agencies, private foundations, corporate sponsors and individual donors.

    For more information about GRID Alternatives visit the website at www.gridalternatives.org



    About me

    I'm a 20-something Southern girl living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I've been working in the wild and wacky world of non-profit green construction in one way or the other for over 3 years. I'm also the owner of Oakland's own Engineered Cupcake.