As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Cameroon, it was my mission to focus on how we could improve the lives of others. Solar Power was always a wonderful benefit to communities without electricity. Even in my small town of Baré, I used solar flash lights whenever our lights were unexpectedly cut off by the monopolizing electric company- about three times per week. I knew that the lights were much safer than inhaling fumes of lamp oil, and significantly cheaper. Solar lights made the best gifts.
I left Cameroon in 2007 after successfully completing a water well project for the Kentaja Orphanage, with the promise of returning to install solar panels for the children. In 2010, I rallied my friends and family to raise over $3,000.00. I returned to fulfill their dream and my promise. “We are in New York City now! Because of the solar lights, snakes will stay away and the children will be able to do their homework!” they cried in joy. After four weeks, a party was thrown in my honor, where a the oldest woman in the village danced. This was her first time to experience light and electricity. The village mamas told me that while they could not afford gifts, they would always pray for me. This was the best gift that they could have ever given me.
So I can’t help but to think that those mamas had something to do with my dream come true of my very own house, with my very own solar power- and 100% FREE! It came about one day during a conversation with my nerdy boyfriend who professed his love of Elon Musk. I quickly understood why after watching his TED Talk, learning that Musk made his fortune with PayPal, and has since focused his efforts on making the world a better place to live. He paved the way for electric car with Tesla Motors, and released the patents, sharing his designs with the entire world- just to encourage more companies to build them, for no benefit other than reducing fuel fumes for everyone. Musk’s newest endeavor is Solar City, a solar power company backed by large corporations like Google, providing free panel installations in select areas. Curious, I searched my zip code and was pleasantly surprised that Solar City existed in my area!
When Joe called me, I must have asked him several times, “what’s the catch?”, “Are you sure there is no cost?”… “No catch”, Joe replied. “We’ll take care of everything. You’re going to save about $1500 per year, you’ll be saving thousands of trees, and will be all-around good to the earth,” he explained! Win, win, win, win!
Now, I ‘m going to attempt to explain how Solar City is able to provide free panels and installations. The run down is that big companies (remember Google?) fund the program, and the excess power created on my roof top will sold back to the grid, allowing Solar City to recoup costs. Solar City becomes my primary provider, and I simply pay them a low, fixed rate of 7 cents p/Kw. I only pay my electric company when my panels don’t produce enough power, and there will even be some months when the grid pays me for providing them with my excess power! The catch? I just need to trim a few trees so as not to block the panels from the sun! Done! From the initial roof inspector, obtaining city permits, to the design and installation -they even repaired my jacked up breaker!- they really did do everything! And now I get to brag about saving money and the earth, not to mention the panels give the house a cool, modern look!
I am reminded every day when I see the panels, that hope goes a long way, and that we all have opportunities to make a difference. I provided that opportunity to the Kentaja Orphanage in Cameroon, and Elon Musk and Solar City have now provided that same opportunity to me and you!
So go ahead! Call my personal Solar City consultant, Catherine Oh (702.703.8936) and tell her that I sent you; Badger her with all your questions, doubts and concerns you might have. From one earth lover to the next, I encourage you to explore this opportunity. This just happens to be one of those few things in life that are free!
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