Photo Gallery Credits: Grid Alternatives
Voice & Viewpoint Staff Writer
Monday, March 19, in celebration of Women’s History Month, nearly a dozen female volunteers hoisted themselves onto a roof top to help a North County San Diego woman save on energy costs. The team of women, donning hard hats and safety harnesses, spent the day helping to install a no-cost solar panel system for the woman’s home.
According to GRID Alternatives, the nonprofit solar installer who organized the event, the female volunteers helped the Rancho Bernardo woman, who is in a low-income bracket, lower her energy costs by 90 percent. The all-female installation crew was part of GRID Alternatives’ Women in Solar Program. The program provides women with the opportunity to install systems with leading solar tradeswomen, trainees and community members. Participants learn important skills while simultaneously improving the life of a local low-income homeowner.
One participant, Daphne Pierre-Smith, gained a lot from the program, which is focused on providing pathways to technical careers for women and, according their website, “highlighting the voices of women of color in the industry.”
“I’ve always had an interest in environmental issues,” said Pierre-Smith, who moved to San Diego 3 years ago. “Keeping track of environmental and health issues, clean energy materials, architecture. I’ve always had an interest in solar,” she said. Pierre-Smith’s curiosity was piqued after she started noticing solar panel installations on rooftops all around San Diego.
To learn more, she got involved with the GRID training program about a year ago. She wasn’t disappointed. After several in-person and online trainings, Pierre-Smith gained an an in-depth appreciation of solar technology and how it works as an efficient energy source. She also got hands-on practice from GRID certified Team Leaders on installing solar paneling.
“Racking, putting aluminum grids together, working with heavy duty power tools… It was really an eye opener, step by step, of how an installation worked,” she said.
While Pierre-Smith hadn’t yet received the 6 to 8 in-person installation trainings needed to climb the roof of the Rancho Bernardo home on March 19, she was active on the ground that day. The more experienced GRID volunteer ladies in the crew installed the paneling.
“I was looking to do something good. Not just volunteering, but building up skills. This was more tech than anything I’ve ever experienced,” Pierre-Smith said.