GRID Alternatives is committed to expanding its workforce development and solar installation projects with tribal communities in a culturally competent, sustainable, and economically feasible manner.
GRID Alternatives commits to provide workforce training opportunities to Navajo and Shinnecock Nation tribal job trainees and community volunteers interested in solar energy. Trainees will be supervised by GRIDs professional solar installation staff on projects complete with instruction and real life work experience. This hands-on training enables trainees to develop their skills and significantly boost their professional profile in the growing solar jobs market. No experience is required and GRID provides all tools, materials, equipment, as well as safety and protective gear on-site. This program not only generates a marketable tribal solar workforce, but will also help provide communities with the workforce resources necessary for the sustainable growth and development of a local green solar economy.
GRID Alternatives will install rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on 50 homes on the Shinnecock Nation reservation in addition to a PV system on the Shinnecock Community Center with a battery backed microsystem for use in emergencies where the electric grid has temporarily failed due to a natural disaster or other cause. The battery system will provide power for such emergency uses as refrigerating perishable medications and charging mobile phones.
GRID Alternatives and the Navajo Nation will partner on the rehabilitation of 36 existing off grid rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and three new installation projects. This project will begin with an assessment of current solar residences to evaluate whether to repair or replace current systems.
This partnership will utilize a new paradigm of renewable development on Navajo land, a paradigm of community education and management of the Navajos resources that reflects cultural values and enhances tribal self-sufficiency.
The aforementioned projects are utilizing new resources, such as a micro-grid and off grid systems that have not been used by GRID to scale. Nearly all of GRIDs projects to date have been grid tied with most benefiting from net metering policies. These micro grid and off grid systems will not only benefit the communities they serve, but will also function as proof of a credible project for the other reservations that have yet to become electrified.
GRID will develop this program in line with its values to deliver triple bottom line results across all its programs: measurable, long-term financial benefits for low-income families struggling to keep up with monthly expenses; real world, hands-on experience for local workers in the growing field of solar installation; and environmental benefits by eliminating greenhouse gas emissions and increasing resilience in communities disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. Workforce and energy development will occur within the cultural contexts and values of the tribal communities, namely concerns related to environmental protection and cultural integrity.
GRID Alternatives with the Shinnecock Nation and Navajo Nation Housing Authorities will utilize various strategies for reaching prospective homeowners to partner in electrifying their homes on tribal lands. In addition to rehabilitation and installation projects, GRID and the Housing Authorities will recruit tribal workforce volunteers throughout the duration of this initiative.
The scope of the Navajo Nation off grid project is the rehabilitation of 36 existing off grid rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and three new installation projects over a three year period. In Year 1, there will be an ongoing assessment of existing residential off grid solar PV systems to determine which systems are repairable and which are in need of replacement. During the last quarter of Year 1, equipment will be procured for the repair and/or replacement of current solar systems. Repairs, installs, and maintenance will be continually scheduled into Year 2 and Year 3. Construction will begin in the 4th quarter of the first year with an average of 12 rehabilitation projects and one new installation per year for three years.
The scope of the Shinnecock Solar Project consists of installing rooftop solar PV systems for 50 tribal member homeowners and a rooftop solar PV system with battery backup on the Shinnecock Community Center over a period of three years. Assessments and scheduling of installations will commence in Year 1 in addition to the procurement of equipment. Construction will begin in the 2nd quarter of Year 1 and continue until the end of Year 3. 15 installations on single family homes will be completed by tribal volunteers in Year 1; 15 installations in Year 2; and 20 installations in Year 3. Repairs, installs, and maintenance will be continually scheduled into Year 2 and Year 3. The installation on the Shinnecock Community Center will take place during Year 2.
For both of these projects, tribal workforce volunteers will be continually recruited from the inception of the timeline in Year 1 until the last installation as needed. Volunteer solar installation trainings will be conducted quarterly beginning in the 3rd quarter of Year 1 and will continue into the last quarter of Year 3 as needed. In addition, homeowners will be consulted for best practices regarding the use, maintenance, and longevity of their system before, during, and after installations.
These projects will be led by GRIDs Director of Tribal Programs, Tim Willink, who is Navajo from Pueblo Pintado, New Mexico and is passionate about bringing renewable energy to scale on tribal lands in a culturally competent manner.
There are 2.9 million Native Americans in the United States, approximately 638,000 of whom live on one of 325 reservations across the country. 29.2% of Native Americans lived in poverty in 2013, the highest rate of any ethnic group and nearly double the national average. Many of the tribes with the greatest needs are located on remote, rural reservations that are well beyond a reasonable driving distance from a metropolitan areas. Some tribes have large populations that are living without basic resources, such as the Navajo Nation, where 16,000 families do not have access to electricity. Other tribal communities are located in areas that do not have adequate net metering policies in place, making the economics of grid-tied solar PV systems challenging at best.
The unemployment rate on reservations is roughly 50%. On the Shinnecock Indian Nation on Long Island (NY), over 50% of the families on the reservation live below the poverty level. They also suffered enormous damage from Hurricane Sandy. In the Navajo Nation, 56% of adults are not participating in the labor force.
GRID Alternatives is primarily seeking partners who can provide financial resources to help meet the $1,755,036 of estimated funding needed over the next three years, so that it can successfully implement its commitment. Secondarily, GRID Alternatives welcomes philanthropic partners who can collaborate on public relations and media resources who can garner additional support for the mission and vision of GRID Alternatives.
GRID Alternatives philanthropic partners will receive media exposure for significant partnerships and on the ground opportunities to participate in gratifying hands-on solar installations. Philanthropic partners will also receive inclusion in GRIDs internal media including annual reports, newsletters, and social media.
For our programmatic partners, GRID Alternatives offers job placement partnerships in the green economy, soft skills trainings, networking opportunities, and technical assistance.