Program Brings Renewable Energy to Local Homes and Career Opportunities for Women

May 17, 2018

By Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Erika Rodriguez, a first-time homeowner in City Heights, was all smiles Wednesday morning when a crew of all women volunteers in hard hats arrived to install free solar panels on her roof.

“At this moment I just feel like oh my God it’s amazing, the feeling is so great, it’s a miracle,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, who has a background in electrical engineering, wanted to install solar panels on her roof to make her home more environmentally friendly and also save some money on her electricity bill.

The solar panels installation was made possible through a program of GRID Alternatives San Diego, an organization that makes solar power and solar jobs accessible to low-income communities.

Through GRID San Diego’s Women in Solar Program, women learn skills needed to enter the solar industry and also help improve the life of a local homeowner.

According to GRID San Diego, women make up only 27 percent of the workforce in solar jobs.

Workforce Coordinator for GRID San Diego Danyla Copino said the program focus on building a welcoming space for women who want to enter the solar industry.

She said the build allows women to learn new skills and installs confidence in women who want to enter the industry.
“Women’s builds are now a nationwide initiative, we have thousands of women building over the years all over the United States and we plan to hold another two in San Diego in 2018,” Copino said.

She said Rodriguez’s home is the first home receiving no-cost solar panels in San Diego this year.

Erika Rodriguez was all smiles as crews showed up to instal her solar panels.

Early in the morning on May 16, more than ten women showed up to install solar panels on Rodriguez’s roof while also learning skills such as power tool safety to electrical wiring.

One of those women was Ingrid Murillo.

Murillo volunteered on Wednesday because she is interested in changing her career and entering the solar industry.
“Because we are going through climate change and all these things, this is ever more important, and if I can contribute in a small part I want to help,” Murillo said.

She said it is empowering that the program encourages women to enter the solar industry and she hopes to go into the solar field herself.

Copino said that women interested in volunteering do not need to have a experience.

She said being a part of the program and installing the solar panels gives those involved a sense of doing something good.
“You learn something, you do something for the environment and you help people financially,” Copino said.

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