New DC Program Puts Solar Panels on Homes of Low-income Families

WASHINGTON — The District has launched a program which aims to get solar panels installed on nearly 300 homes of low-income families in the nation’s capital.

On Monday, one finished project was revealed at the home of Amy McKelvin who has lived in the Trinidad neighborhood for 32 years.

“I am glad I was able to qualify for it,” McKelvin said.

One aim of the Solar Works program is to save the families close to $600 a year in energy costs, and to train young residents for careers in the solar energy field. The solar program comes as part of legislation signed by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser last year, which promises to increases the amount of energy from renewable sources to 50 percent by the year 2032.
“I’m always happy when we can talk about our efforts to fight climate change and putting young people on the pathway to the middle class, right here in D.C.,” Bowser said in front of McKelvin’s home on Trinidad Avenue in Northeast D.C.

The panels are being installed by the GRID Alternatives program which is a nonprofit with a goal of bringing alternative energy sources to low-income families. Also assisting in the installation of the solar panels are members of the Mayor Marion S. Barry Summer Youth Employment Program.

“Pitch roofs were a big fear for me, so getting on there I definitely overcame my fear,” said Asia Ferrell, 23, a member of the youth-employment program.

Tommy Wells, director of the District Department of Energy and the Environment said projects like this for young people build their skill set and confidence.

“They learned not just about how to install solar, but they learn about customer acquisition, customer relations, customer support,” Wells said. “They learn about HR, finance, accounting.”

With the number of jobs in the solar energy sector continuing to grow, city leaders said they hope teaching young people about the industry will prepare more than 200 young people for entry-level green jobs.

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