By Jeff Todd
WELD COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – As Colorado works toward producing more renewable energy, one Colorado nonprofit is working to make the industry more diverse.
“This has helped us get into perspective and get that hands-on research and hands-on learning,” said Addie Arnold. Arnold is working on her Masters at Colorado State University and has focused on solar energy for the Global Social Sustainable MBA program, but Saturday was her first time working at a construction site.
“We’re installing everything ourselves and it’s really interesting,” said Arnold. ““Just have to make sure they’re aligned and screw them in. So it’s pretty fast.”
Saturday at a solar energy farm near Platteville in Weld County, 65 women came to learn more about the industry and how facilities are built. GRID Alternatives, a nationwide organization hosted the We Build Weekend.
“It’s been really empowering today to be able to talk to them and get encouragement,” Arnold said.
“This is a great medium for them to find a mentor, or a peer mentors and develop a network within the industry,” said Anna Bautista, the Vice President of Construction at GRID Alternatives.
In the solar industry as a whole, less than 30 percent of the workforce is female. In solar farm construction, that number is even lower.
“In order for us to continue to innovate, we need to continue to have diversity of thought,” Bautista said. “Seeing is believing and being able to see all these smart, amazing powerful women in the industry is very inspiring.”
The facility being built will help Boulder Housing Partners lower energy cost for low-income residents.
“The benefactor in this project is a deserving community and in the process this is a community building as well for an under represented demographic in the industry,” Bautista said.
“I’m definitely going to be applying for some solar jobs,” Arnold said.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.