Students from Arizona State University (ASU) and California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) will spend their spring break installing no-cost solar for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe located in Lake Havasu.
ASU students participated in the first tribal community solar project installation from March 4 to 8, and CSUSB students who will participate from March 25-29.
Each year, college students gain hands-on training which connects them with solar industry careers through the GRID Alternatives’ Solar Spring Break program. GRID Alternatives Inland Empire, an affiliate of GRID Alternatives, is a leader in making clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs accessible to disadvantaged communities.
The service-learning program provides an opportunity for students to learn about the energy and environmental issues facing low-income and tribal communities while getting hands on with renewable energy technology.
This year’s effort represents the first SCE Multifamily Affordable Housing (MASH) grant on a tribal community solar project. It will serve low-income elders in apartments on the reservation. The MASH program provides up-front incentives for qualifying multifamily and affordable housing buildings. Other funding for the project will be coming from the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund (TSAF).
“It’s so amazing that through the tribe’s partnership with GRID they’ve gone from no solar to probably one of the most solarized tribes in the US! This project is a huge milestone for our regional office,” said Lisa Castilone, GRID Inland Empire’s Community Development and Tribal Manager.
In the summer months, Chemehuevi tribal community experiences extreme weather temperatures and even blackouts. The project will help to reduce the tribe’s energy costs and is expected to produce up to about $600,000 worth of energy over its 20-year lifetime.
The Solar Spring Break program, a national initiative, has grown from six schools in 2014 to 22 schools in 2019, and created opportunities for students to make a difference in low-income communities while getting hands-on experience with renewable energy.