Any regular visitor to this blog has read more than once about the GRID Alternatives Solarthon. After participating in this “solar barn-raising” last year, I was hooked. And that’s not surprising, since the event combines two of my favorite things: solar power and community. It’s a celebration of the work GRID does all year, and it provides an inspiring example of what people can achieve together.
There’s no dearth of good causes to contribute time and resources to, and many of us give to other organizations and do other kinds of volunteer work. But I’ve found volunteering for GRID the most satisfying. Yes, it’s partly that all the staff and volunteers are just so nice, and it’s partly that it’s very different from the work I do during the week. But mostly, it’s the bang you get for your buck. How many other single actions can you take that make a difference in such a host of areas as the environment, public health, jobs, the economy, foreign policy, national security … you get the idea? To top it all off, by volunteering with GRID you’re also helping spread renewable energy in the communities that are generally most affected by environmental problems.
So I was glad to take part in this year’s Solarthon last weekend. And I must take a moment here to thank my family members and friends who helped me become the top fundraiser for the Solarthon for the second year in a row, for which I was featured in this GRID video. With your help, I raised over $4,300! This helps GRID continue their important work all year.
The direct benefits of this particular Solarthon can be measured:
- We installed 13 PV energy systems.
- These represent 31 kW of clean, renewable energy.
- The systems will produce 1.7 million kW over their lifetime.
- The families will save $290,000 over the system lifetimes.
- And the systems will prevent 977 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
This is just one day’s work. GRID is growing exponentially and has already installed over 1,200 solar systems, preventing 96,300 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. But there’s a lot more to it than these impressive statistics. At the Solarthon, you experience being part of a community of solar enthusiasts, as well as the community where you’re installing the panels. While doing something very concrete in one neighborhood, you also get to feel that you’re part of something larger.
Which you are. GRID is not alone in spreading solar through communities. We had a visit at the house I was working on from Joy Hughes of the Solar Gardens Institute, who wrote about the event in her blog. As a proponent of community solar, she was enthusiastic about GRID’s work, which brings local power to communities in need. She’s part of a growing community solar movement, as is GRID — just from a slightly different angle. And this movement could significantly change how we generate, distribute, and use power. The hope is that it will not only help us get off fossil fuels but also directly benefit not the large power companies but the people who need the power — which is all of us.
And that’s really the reason to volunteer for GRID and other renewable-energy organizations: we all benefit. We’re not talking in a fringe benefit kind of way; this is a serious, urgent issue. If we don’t take care of the environment, all those other causes people volunteer for will cease to exist. And ultimately, that’s really the reason I choose to devote my volunteer time and energy to an organization like GRID Alternatives.