Solar Tribune

Bay Area City to Add Free Solar to 130 Low-Income Homes


Over the next three years, the city of Richmond in the East Bay area will be adding solar to 130 low-income households there – without the city or homeowners paying a dime. At a city council meeting on July 21st, Richmond approved the new $550,000 contract with nonprofit GRID Alternatives.

Two solar workersIn June 2014, Richmond had greenlighted an Environmental and Community Investment Agreement (ECIA) with Chevron Richmond, through which the city will receive, over ten years, $90 million. (This agreement was a result of the planned $1 billion modernization by Chevron of its Richmond Refinery.) One third of the $90 million is slated for projects to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. The costs for the current project will be paid out of these funds.

The schedule for the installations, according the city’s contract, is as follows:

  • First year (FY 2015/2016): estimated 25 solar installations
  • Second year (FY 2016/2017): estimated 50 solar installations
  • Third year (FY 2017/2018): estimated 55 solar installations.

Again according to the contract, the project will provide during the three years “over $2.2 million in energy cost savings for families in need, over 15,000 hours of job skill building experience in solar installation for community volunteers and job trainees, and [prevent] nearly 7,000 tons” of emissions.

The installations also require GRID Alternatives to employ trainees from RichmondBUILD, a successful local career-training program also supported by Chevron. The nonprofit will be hiring at least one RichmondBUILD trainee per project.

GRID Alternatives’ mission is “to make renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities.” It has installed well over 1,000 solar systems in the Bay Area since 2005. Since 2007, it has completed 145 installations for low-income households in Richmond.


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