Solar savings light up homeowners’ futures
Residents in one of the most economically challenged neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., are the latest to have solar energy systems installed on their homes by the nonprofit GRID Alternatives.
When Jennifer Dzandza learned she was selected for a Habitat for Humanity home, she was excited about having a place she and her family could call their own. When she learned that the northeast Washington, D.C., home also would be receiving a solar energy system, she was excited about the environmental and economic impact it would have.
“It feels good to know we’ll be helping our environment and saving money at the same time,” she says. “That’s money my husband and I can use for our kids’ education,” she says of the solar energy systems, which can save homeowners up to $1,000 a year in electricity costs, according to the nonprofit GRID Alternatives.
The California-based nonprofit makes renewable energy, technology, and job training accessible to low-income communities. In 2012, Wells Fargo announced a $2 million, five-year donation to GRID Alternatives to help expand the nonprofit’s efforts to bring clean, affordable solar energy to disadvantaged communities.
Wells Fargo volunteers have participated in more than 30 solar installations across the U.S. with GRID. Among them was the installation of solar panels on homes in New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.
GRID’s expansion to the Mid-Atlantic region includes Jennifer’s northeast Washington, D.C., neighborhood, Ivy City, which is one of the most economically challenged in the District of Columbia. Her home is one of 10 under-construction Habitat for Humanity homes to receive a solar energy system.
Jennifer and other homeowners joined 30 Wells Fargo volunteers as they installed solar panels alongside community volunteers and job trainees from a local youth services organization.
“Ivy City is the perfect place to shout from every rooftop that solar savings and solar jobs can lift up our communities and move us towards a cleaner world,” says Erica Mackie, executive director of GRID Alternatives.
Construction on Jennifer’s home will be completed in early 2015, but she says her children have already started to ask questions about solar energy and how the panels on their home will work.
“I’m so grateful my kids will be able to learn about solar energy and so grateful to everyone involved,” she says. “They’re making this house a home for my family, and I’m so very happy.”