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Working with GRID Alternatives, Our Experts in Off-Grid Solar

Bringing renewable energy to remote, off-grid regions is always an extraordinary, immensely rewarding experience. The “miracle of light” never dims or grows old, and that first flip of the switch in a previously unlit dwelling invariably reveals some teary eyes among the homeowners, our Viridian team and our project partners alike.

But a good deal of careful and thoughtful planning and analysis goes into creating that moment, from our initial choice of a location to the nitty gritty details of planning, coordinating and implementing our project. Our knowledgeable, expert, highly skilled and caring project partners play a key role in every one of our global initiatives, giving life to our project vision and helping us accomplish our most ambitious goals. In Nicaragua, we were very fortunate to find a project partner in the nonprofit GRID Alternatives, who had already installed solar on the village’s single school. GRID understood the importance of community and individual ownership and felt it was important for families to contribute to the cost of each system.

Grid-Alt-logoGRID Alternatives believes that a successful transition to clean, renewable energy should include everyone. To that end, they are working across the United States and in Nicaragua to make renewable energy technology and job training accessible to low-income and underserved communities.

Since 2004, the organization has brought together community partners, volunteers and often job trainees to install solar panels on homes and community buildings, enabling the generation of more than 18 megawatts of clean, renewable power for more than 5,000 families. Those installed photovoltaic systems not only bring light and hope, they will help prevent the release of 340,000 tons of greenhouse gases over the systems’ lifetimes, provide more than $130 million in energy cost savings and, in Nicaragua, the systems offer relief from unhealthy and polluting kerosene fumes.

Portrero Platanal is in such a rugged and remote region that car travel is impossible. (Burros/horses are pressed into service for transporting heavy items, but hiking is how most people get around.) The homes are set far apart, separated by steep hills and small, twisting paths. Given those circumstances, it was up to us, divided into teams, to install the solar panels ourselves. And thanks to the expert instruction and training we received from GRID Alternatives team members, who worked alongside us and coached us through the process, we were able to facilitate installations on 40 homes in the community. Caring, dedicated and highly professional, GRID helped us create what may well be our greatest international success story to date.

Watch Off-grid Solar: A Life Changing Opportunity