PALMDALE – Several students were hard at work Wednesday helping retired grandmother Marsha Furman go solar.
“This is a wonderful program,” Furman exclaimed, as she watched the students working on the roof of her Palmdale home. “This is absolutely free, and they maintain everything for 25 years,” Furman added.
Grid Alternatives, a non-profit organization that brings solar technology to disadvantaged communities, has partnered with The University of Antelope Valley’s Sustainable Energy students to install a photovoltaic system at Furman’s home.
“Our students learn how to perform photovoltaic installations in class using our mock rooftops which is great experience,” said Uriah Ojan, Lead Solar Program Instructor at the University of Antelope Valley. “Now they will get a chance to not only prove their skills in the real world, but to also help out our community, which is what this school was founded on.”
Robert Heath, a student with just two weeks left to an Associate’s Degree in Sustainable Energy Technology, said the project offers real world experience in an exciting and growing field.
“I got into it because it’s a growing industry and Lancaster is going to be the solar capital of the country,” Heath said. “You can read about it and do the book work, but you have to actually do it to learn it. In a setting like this you can catch any mistakes.”
UAV’s Sustainable Energy Course students attended an orientation on Tuesday, courtesy of Grid Alternatives, to qualify the students to be volunteers for the project.
The two-day project includes nine students from UAV’s Sustainable Energy Program, the class instructor, and a solar installation supervisor from Grid Alternatives.
“Today they’re going to be starting on the rooftop, putting in the penetrations, getting the rails up and working on the electrical system, and tomorrow, we’ll be finishing it out, installing the panels and making sure everything works right and the system is operable,” Ojan said. “This house will be totally green by tomorrow.”
For Furman, the project couldn’t have come at a better time.
Grid Alternatives oversees the $108 million dollar Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) program, which provides significant rebates on solar electric systems to qualifying single-family homeowners and assists in paying for the energy upgrades.
Their community involvement goes much further than just helping struggling families save on their monthly electric bills though. They also help the environment with every installation and give workers the hands on experience they will need in the Sustainable Energy industry.
Depending on your income level, you may be eligible for an entirely free solar electric system, or a highly subsidized one. For more information on GRID Alternatives and eligibility requirements for the SASH program, visit http://www.gridalternatives.org/. For more information on UAV’s Sustainable Energy Technology program, visit http://www.uav.edu.