GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives' mission is to empower communities in need by providing renewable energy and energy efficiency services, equipment and training. We believe making energy choices that are good for the environment can go hand-in-hand with improving the lives of those living in low-income communities. GRID Alternatives works collaboratively with communities and local organizations to identify specific needs and to develop renewable energy solutions that are environmentally, socially and economically sustainable.



Contact GRID Alternatives
1171 Ocean Avenue
Oakland, CA 94608
(510) 652-4730
Additional Information

GRID Alternatives was founded during the 2001 California energy crisis by Erica Mackie, P.E., and Tim Sears, P.E., two engineering professionals who were implementing large-scale renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for the private sector. The vision that drove them was simple: why is free, clean electricity from the sun only available to big businesses and wealthy environmentalists, when it should be available to everybody? They wanted to develop a model to make this technology practical and accessible for low-income communities that need the savings the most, and where families often live in the shadow of polluting fossil-fuel power plants.


GRID Alternatives' core program model is the Solar Affordable Housing Program, in which we train and lead community volunteers and job trainees from all walks of life to install solar electric systems with low-income homeowners. Every solar installation is a renewable energy “barn raising” that brings together environmental activists, advocates for low-income communities, green job trainees, community volunteers, and the homeowners themselves to participate in a fun, hands-on project that delivers immediate, tangible results: a fully installed solar electric system that provides immediate economic benefits to a local low-income family.

Since piloting our Solar Affordable Housing Program with two installations in 2004, GRID Alternatives has grown rapidly, and now has offices throughout California. We now complete hundreds of projects every year - visit our By the Numbers page to see our total accomplishments to date. Our model has been purposefully created to allow us to replicate it in response to community need, while maintaining a strong grassroots presence and regionalism even as we grow. We are in the process of developing an affiliate model based on these principles that will allow us to expand into other states in the years ahead. 

GRID Alternatives is also the California statewide Program Manager of the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) Program, which offers rebates on solar-electric systems to qualifying low-income families as part of the California Solar Initiative. GRID Alternatives manages the SASH Program on behalf of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC)