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Sweat equity added to Veterans Day

Lakeside townhouse building gets solar panels installed

A group of volunteers spent their Veterans Day putting the finishing touches on a new solar power system donated to four disabled veterans and their families at a small Lakeside townhome complex.

According to Tom McSorley with Grid Alternatives, the latest project is one of about 750 that have been provided to low-income San Diego area residents since the Oakland-based organization opened its local office seven years ago. The three-kilowatt systems, which are projected to last 25 years and provide users with up to $35,000 in savings over their lifespan, are initially provided at no cost.

"We ask homeowners to pay something out of their savings forward to help another person. Maybe it's ten dollars a month, maybe ten dollars a year — it's not something we really enforce," says McSorley, whose nonprofit relies mostly on government grants to finance the solar systems. "For the first time, the communities that we're working with get to see that they're part of a larger solution in dealing with the problem of climate change."

The Lakeshore Drive townhomes themselves were completed earlier this year by Habitat for Humanity and intended specifically for occupancy by families of disabled veterans — three are already occupied, while the fourth still awaits a new homeowner.

"I was originally interested in working with Habitat, which has been amazing," said Wesley, one of the veteran homeowners. "We were able to put in some 'sweat equity' hours to get into our home, and then we got to partner with them to get this going."

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