NATiVE Solar SPONSORED CONTENT — At the end of November, members of the local solar community gathered in East Austin to assist a solar installation at The Children’s Haven Association, a 75 year old non-profit entity. This was also the launch of a series of solar camps to educate, train and share exciting career pathways with community members. Hosted by Solar Austin, local participating installers included NATiVE Solar, Lighthouse Solar, Enphase, and Freedom Solar. The solar camps offer hands-on introduction to the solar installation process, best practices, and system design innovations, allowing participants to learn more about the skills required for solar jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The Solar Camp

The solar camps are designed to offer a concise version of the high school curriculum NATiVE is developing with Solar Austin at the Del Valle Opportunity Center. The trade skills and learning objectives will take place over the course of one day, as opposed to 6 weeks. It may not be as in-depth, but it does offer a snapshot of the industry practices, giving those interested the chance to learn more and discuss career pathways with people working in all areas of the industry.

The Installation: An on-grid, off-grid solution

In tandem with teaching attendees about how solar works and the installation process, Freedom and Lighthouse Solar donated time and materials as lead installers. The solar array was also installed with a battery backup, which facilitates off-grid power. Such microgrid (or nanogrid) generation establishes a place where community members can gather safely and have access to important resources during a blackout event, such as a devastating Winter Storm repeat.

The decision to partner with the Children’s Haven Association for this project was important because as an established community non-profit, The Children’s Haven has served marginalized children and families in the area for decades. They focus on providing essentials for daily living and enrichment, such as food, supplemental care, clothing, property management, and other practices for self care.

Working with the Children’s Haven Association

With the brand new array and backup installed at The Children’s Haven Association facility, their goal of becoming a model of sustainability and energy resilience is being met. Not only will they be able to provide electricity and comfort for those in need if ERCOT fails, they are now also able to curb their utility bills, freeing more money to spend investing back into the community. We are proud to work alongside such proven community-mindedness, and to have the opportunity to provide a lasting source of renewable energy and potential for long-term economic growth within the community.