Author: Jenna Bieller received a dual degree from CU Boulder in Environmental Studies and Business Administration, and assists Renewable Choice in providing market-based insights and analysis, as well as sustainability communications.
Solar power is one thing. The power of solar however, encompasses so much more than simply providing clean electricity to the grid. Last Tuesday, a group of Renewable Choice staff joined non-profit, GRID Alternatives, to install solar panels for a low-income housing community right in our hometown of Boulder, Colorado. GRID’s mission is three-fold: make clean, renewable technology available to underserved communities, while providing life-changing job training to launch careers in the solar industry. People, planet, employment.
While on the roof in the midst of installing solar PV modules, I paused to gaze at (and snap a photo of) the breathtaking flatiron view with our little town nestled beneath. Overcome with gratitude for the place we live and work, I realized that Renewable Choice’s new-found partnership with GRID was worth much more than a strategic alignment for our company. This volunteer day was the reality check we all needed to catch a glimpse of the bigger picture: why we are all working so hard to advance clean energy.
Yes, of course clean energy saves money. And yes, it is a fundamental step in tackling climate change. But working with GRID showed me that clean energy is also a panacea of sorts. In addition to displacing dirty energy with low-cost alternatives, the renewable energy industry also opens the door for opportunities of all shapes and sizes. For instance, the solar industry added over 35,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in 2015, a feat that GRID no doubt had a hand in accomplishing. The work GRID does with its SolarCorps Fellowship program helps connect ambitious individuals with the experience they need to enter this blossoming workforce. Likewise, extending access to solar power to low-income families affords them the opportunity to use energy cost savings on essentials like food, medical costs, and even school for their children.
It is important to remember that while this industry we work in is leveraged as a financial maneuver for investors, corporates, and developers, it also produces benefits that permeate every level of our social and economic well-being as a country. As a buyer’s agent for corporate procurement of renewable energy, we often experience only the intangible steps in the processes of advancing clean tech. Working with GRID for a day helped me gain a deeper appreciation for the unique aspects of hands-on participation in clean energy development–from electrical wiring to testing and mounting panels. I think I speak for our entire team when I say that this chance provided enormous perspective on the jobs we do day-to-day, and instilled in us an even greater sense that our mission is one that has the potential to change the world.
Interested in getting on the roof with GRID Alternatives? Visit their volunteer page and explore your options!
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