Changing Lives With New Homes, Free Solar Panels

Aug 9, 2018 1:00 PM ET

Originally posted on Inside Edison

The Ramos and Limon families attend the same church in Montebello. Now, they are also neighbors and new homeowners with solar panels, thanks to nonprofits Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles and GRID Alternatives.

Both families learned they’d likely qualify for free solar installation from GRID Alternatives through a workshop provided by Habitat LA.

“We are blown away that we have the opportunity to have solar at our house,” said Derek Limon, who always admired homes with solar panels, “not just [for] going green and using renewable energy, but also how it can save money on your electric bill.”

Frances Ramos, mother to two sons with one on the way, watched with excitement as job trainees from GRID Alternatives and volunteers from Southern California Edison installed solar panels for free on her Montebello home’s rooftop. 

“I never thought we could afford solar panels, so we never really considered it,” she said. “GRID Alternatives made it seem possible.”

In all, GRID Alternatives and SCE volunteers installed solar panels pro bono on four homes in Montebello recently. GRID Alternatives is a statewide, certified nonprofit that brings together community partners, volunteers and job trainees to install solar arrays for income-qualified families.

“We’re proud to partner with these organizations and families to deliver more clean energy to communities in need like Montebello,” said Michael Kadish, executive director of GRID Alternatives Greater Los Angeles.

Edison International, parent company of SCE, is a longtime supporter of GRID Alternatives and awarded a $40,000 grant earlier this year to support projects in the Greater Los Angeles area.

“Edison International, Habitat for Humanity and GRID Alternatives share a commitment to making life better for the people in these communities,” said Lisa Woon, SCE’s principal manager of Corporate Philanthropy. “Our company is committed to de-carbonizing the grid. We believe there is a future in which renewable energy significantly reduces our reliance on fossil fuels.”

SCE volunteer Hansel Pattynama was there for both the original construction of the four homes in 2016 and now for the solar installation. 

“[It’s] nice to come back after the construction and see the finished product, and see that it’s moving into the future with solar,” he said.

The families moved into the homes last November after contributing 500 hours of “sweat equity” required by Habitat LA. For the Ramos family, it was “life-changing” to move to a “safer, family-oriented, tight-knit community.”

For the Limons, the new home meant being able to start their family — they had their first child earlier this year — after previously living in a one-bedroom apartment.

“One time we took a moment to pray, and my wife prayed for a home where we could raise a family,” said Limon. “Two days later, we got the call from Habitat for Humanity to look at the location. Now we have a place where we can invite our family, our church family and our friends and enjoy the time we spend with them.”