Spring break fun in the sun means solar power for this Duke team

Posted On:

Friday, Apr 15, 2016 - 3:56 pm

As most of the student community took a mid-semester breather in March, the Duke Undergraduate Energy Club went to work.

Eight club members took part in a Grid Alternatives Solar Spring Break service trip, traveling to the Inland Empire region of California to install residential solar panels on the Chemehuevi reservation near Lake Havasu.

Five women and three men — all freshmen and sophomores — raised $5,000 to support the trip, including sponsorship from the Energy Initiative. The funds covered materials costs and housing during their stay. The students’ on-site duties included laying panel tracks, mounting the panels and running wires to the homes’ existing electrical systems. In an estimate provided to the Havasu News, Grid Alternatives said they expect the newly-equipped homes to shed about 75 percent of their annual energy costs.

After their work was concluded, the team stayed on for several days of activities on the reservation, learning extensively about Chemehuevi tribal history and culture.  

Eleven teams from 10 colleges and universities nationwide participated in this year’s Solar Spring Break, which is part of a larger suite of Grid Alternatives solar development programs. The Oakland-based nonprofit organization has developed community partnerships throughout the United States and in Nicaragua to bring renewable energy to lower-income families, and also provides job training and experiential learning opportunities.

Watch a video documenting the Duke Undergraduate Energy Club’s experience.


Posted By:

Bryan Koen

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  • Senior Education Program Coordinator

    Bryan’s work supports the Energy Initiative’s educational programming, events and communications.