Solar power for free? This nonprofit offers installation, panels, and maintenance at no cost

GRID Alternatives has helped more than 2,000 low-income families in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For most homeowners in the U.S., it will take roughly eight years to break even on a solar power investment.

That initial investment cost keeps many low-income families out of the renewable energy market, families that could really use the savings that come from solar power.

"To a working class family, stretching that dollar that they might have been paying for an electric bill, that can go towards savings for retirement, a better car, just a tank of gas, college tuition ... whatever working class families need," said Danny Hom, the external affairs manager at GRID Alternatives.

GRID Alternatives is a nonprofit working to provide economic and environmental justice through renewable energy, installing solar electric systems for qualifying families at no cost to the homeowner.

"We want to fortify this community so that people living here can live their best and healthiest lives, and we want to put something directly in their custody and in their pocketbooks," he said.

One of the hardest parts of getting solar panels on more qualified homes is getting the customer to believe that installation, panels, maintenance is all actually free.

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"We're not here to try and force people to sign up, but we believe if we're able to empower them with the correct information they're going to sign up themselves," said Nick Boateng of GRID Alternatives.

Maria Madrigal is one of the first customers in the Pacoima/Sun Valley area to take advantage of the state-funded program.

"The reduction on the bill has been amazing," she said.

By taking advantage of the GRID program, Madrigal lowered her energy bill from more than $700 to an almost embarrassingly low amount.

"My electricity bill? It was $14," she said with a laugh.

Having helped more than 2,000 low-income families in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties, GRID is still trying to get the word out to residents who might qualify for a program that can be part of the solution for the environment, all while helping families do more than survive.

"It shouldn't have to be, 'Should I turn on my air conditioning so I can stay cool?'" said Ashley Christy, GRID's executive director of great L.A. "It shouldn't be, 'How am I going to put food on my table because I'm paying all these high bills?' We should have solutions that help people stay in their homes and help move towards the future."

If you would like to see if you qualify, visit https://www.gridsolar.org.

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