July 25, 2014

Solar panels: One key to rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy

Solar panels are being installed on homes in Asbury Park, N.J., with the help of Wells Fargo, GRID Alternatives, and the Affordable Housing Alliance.

Jolyn and Warren Bright of Asbury Park, N.J., were left homeless after 2012 Superstorm Sandy. Today, they live in a new home that includes solar panels on the roof to help reduce their power bills.

The installation will help save an estimated 220,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions a year and an estimated $900 a year in electricity costs.

The installation, which was provided at no cost to the Brights, is part of an expansion into New Jersey by GRID Alternatives, a California-based nonprofit that provides renewable-energy and energy-efficiency services for low-income communities. The expansion was made possible with a $2 million, five-year grant from Wells Fargo.

GRID Alternative’s expansion into New Jersey meant forging a relationship with an affordable housing group. Wanda Saez of Wells Fargo helped connect GRID Alternatives and the nonprofit Affordable Housing Alliance.

“The two organizations worked together to find homes that would be good candidates for solar and to help people affected by the storm,” she says.

Donna Blaze, CEO of Affordable Housing Alliance, says, “Our mission is to expand affordable housing opportunities and support educational services that give New Jersey residents access to safe, secure, and affordable housing.”

The homes that have solar are part of the Affordable Housing Alliance’s lease purchase program. “We’re helping residents make the transition to homeownership,” says Derrick Greggs, chief operating officer of Affordable Housing Alliance.