WATSONVILLE — Barbara Crum’s Freedom home got a makeover last week, but it wasn’t just cosmetic.

Crews spent the day installing solar panels on the roof, and once it goes live, it is expected to save Crum about 90 percent on her electricity bill.

And the installation cost her nothing.

Crum is one of two homeowners in the Watsonville area who have taken advantage of Grid Alternatives’ Energy For All program. The program, which provides free solar panel installations to qualifying homeowners, is funded through taxes collected by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Clarita Cortes, senior outreach coordinator with the nonprofit Grid Alternatives, said each installation averages about $20,000.

“You are not only saving money, you are doing your part to save the environment,” she said.

Among the qualifications, homeowners must meet a certain income level, such as $89,450 for a household of four, and live within a specific census tract. The home’s roof must also be suitable for a solar installation.

Cortes said Grid Alternatives also gives job training experience to those who are looking to get their foot in the door of the solar industry.

“It’s one of the industries that is growing and growing because we are getting more environmentally-conscious,” she said.

Crum said she learned about the program through Nancy Faulstich, director of Regeneracion – Pajaro Valley Climate Action.

“It’s good for the planet, good for the people and good for your utility bill,” she said.

Crum said she now plans on canvassing her neighborhood to promote the program, hoping to quell the skepticism homeowners might have.

She also encouraged anyone thinking about applying to contact her at [email protected] and see how the solar panels are working.

“I am so thrilled,” Crum said. “I’m anticipating that this is going to be a great thing.”

Faulstich said Regeneracion is hoping to spread the word about the program and shift more homeowners to renewable solar energy.

“It’s great for the owner who will save a lot of money, and great for our community and the world to have more local solar power,” she said.


For information about Grid Alternatives’ Energy For All program and to apply, visit www.energyforallprogram.org or call Cortes at 784-8677.

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