For most students, spring break is a much-deserved chance to do anything but work. But in Desert Hot Springs this week, about 30 students from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, are spending their spring breaks installing solar panels at three low-income homes. They’re working with GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit that helps homeowners go solar free of charge and trains students hoping to break into the solar industry.
“We at Cal Poly Pomona are proud to represent our interests in helping the less fortunate with our skills and knowledge in engineering,” Gregory Lynch, an electrical and electronics engineering student at Cal Poly, said in a statement. The students are camping at Joshua Tree National Park over the weekend, according to GRID. GRID — which is based in Oakland and has an office in Riverside — has been active in the Coachella Valley, with at least 250 installations over the last three-plus years. The nonprofit receives much of its funding from the state’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes program, meaning only low-income homeowners living in affordable housing qualify.
The organization is billing this week’s local installations, which started Monday, as a preview of its upcoming “Solarthon” in Desert Hot Springs. That event, to take place next month, will involve the installation of solar panels on nine newly completely homes, built through the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition’s self-help housing program.