Trolley Trestle Ribbon Cutting

 

The sun is shining a little brighter these days for the at-risk youth living on the Trolley Trestle transitional housing campus in Chula Vista, Calif. That’s because a newly installed solar project, partly funded by the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) Program, is providing them with not only clean, renewable energy, but also direct benefits derived from energy savings.

In operation since 1998, Trolley Trestle is a part of SBCS (formerly South Bay Community Services), a social services organization that has grown to provide support for children, youth and families throughout San Diego County. Trolley Trestle offers affordable, interim housing for homeless and former foster youth ages 16-24 while they complete school or job training to become self-sufficient, independent individuals.

Investment coming back to the community

According to Mauricio Torre, SBCS vice president of Program Operations, the solar project will redirect more than $60,000 in electricity utility costs annually to Trolley Trestle programs and services.

“Over 10 years, we’re looking at in excess of $600,000 savings,” Torre said. “For a community services nonprofit that amount really makes an impact because we don’t have to write grants for it and can plan for the funding to come in on a regular basis.”

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The advice I would give other organizations would be first and foremost to do the math. I think once you pencil out the investment and the return on that investment, adding solar really becomes a no-brainer.” - Mauricio Torre, SBCS vice president of Program Operations

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Partnerships helped build a successful project

The idea for the solar installation was brought to SBCS by BQuest Foundation, an organization focused on investing in climate, housing and homelessness issues in the San Diego area. They went on to facilitate it through a no-interest loan that supplied bridge funds for upfront project costs until SOMAH rebates were awarded.

The project also was actively supported by GRID Alternatives San Diego who provided SOMAH application support to SBCS and served as the project installation contractor.

Through the SOMAH Program over $48,000 in rebates was issued for the 25.6-kilowatt solar installation serving 10 living units and common areas at Trolley Trestle.

As a bonus, the project supports the City of Chula Vista’s climate action plan and its goal of 100% renewable energy.

Voices from the project team

“This project is a perfect example of how solar energy projects can be built to benefit residents of environmental justice communities,” said Jae Berg, SOMAH Program Manager. “We’re proud to have awarded funds for this installation, which will allow both tenants and SBCS to realize savings from energy credits for many years to come.”

“As a service hub for our most vulnerable youth, Trolley Trestle has always been about protecting our future,” Torre said. “Adding the solar is a way for SBCS to contribute to a more climate-friendly future and provide funding for building better futures for our youth. We’re grateful to BQuest, GRID Alternatives San Diego and SOMAH for making this possible.”

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