By George Kevin Jordan, AFRO Staff Writer
It was a sweltering 83 degrees in the District Tuesday and the sun had no blanket of clouds to block its rays upon the city. It was a hard day for a forehead, but the perfect day to set up a rooftop solar installation as Mayor Muriel Bowser and several officials from the Department of Employment Services and GRID Alternatives Mid Atlantic celebrated the 100th installation on a home in Northeast as part of the District’s Solar Works DC initiative.
More than 50 employees from both GRID and Solar Works DC sat behind the mayor as she spoke to a crowd.
“These men and women are the people who are out in the community installing solar panels ensuring that D.C. residents know about our solar for all programs and are making the program a success,” Bowser said.
Solar Works is a clean energy program that installs solar panels on the homes of low to moderate income residents, and is also a job training program under the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Solar for All program. It promotes career opportunities in solar and related industries. The initiative is implemented by GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, through a Solar for All grant. GRID is a non profit community organization that connects families with programs that give them access to solar power at no cost.
“We know that solar is real in D.C.,” said Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Director of the Department of Employment Services adding that, “we’re not only training people, we’re not only breaking barriers, but we’re building global ambassadors and citizens.”
“Nationwide the growing solar industry is creating pathways out of poverty for 10s of thousands of worker but here in the dc we are blazing new trails.”
Bowser’s budget proposed $1.3 million for the continuation of Solar Works DC, $12 million for Solar for All, and $25 million for solar energy investments in government property and community solar projects.
As part of the Sustainable DC 2.0 plan, also unveiled this week is a 20 month community engagement process with more than 1,200 residents attending Sustainable DC 2.0 public meetings. About 400, residents participated in a working groups.
“As we fulfill our local responsibility to build a greener and more sustainable D.C., Solar Works DC is a prime example of how we can take on climate change while also addressing income inequality,” Bowser said. “By investing in our solar and other green infrastructure, we are creating jobs, building a robust clean economy, and making good on our commitment to do more and do better for the environment.”
Dawn Fong, a D.C. resident for over 20 years, and now GRID employee, whose house had the solar panel installed was elated by the process.
“It’s amazing. I”ll see when I get my first bill,” Fong joked. “But I actually participated. I had to climb on my roof and install the panel so I felt apart of the process.”
Steve Donerson a D.C. native, moved through different careers after the financial recession in 2008. He went from a concierge director to scrambling for employment. He looked everywhere for employment and was researching information on Nikola Tesla, when he found out about the District’s Solar Initiative.
“I didn’t find solar,” Donerson said, “Solar found me.” He said he found classes for GRID classes and quickly moved the process. “I was the number one student because I applied myself. I did everything I had to do because I didn’t want to miss an opportunity like this.”
Donerson is now a multi-family installer and wants to move up to inspector.
To learn more about the Solar Works program go to: https://doee.dc.gov/service/solar-works-dc.