Students spend spring break installing solar panels for Fresno families

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- While some spring breakers are taking off to popular destinations, others are volunteering on a 'Solar Spring Break' in Fresno.

"It would have been fun to just go to a beach in Cancun and just enjoy, but I wanted something more meaningful out of my spring break," student Harshvardhan Sanghi said.

School may not be in session for these Duke University students, but solar studies are in full effect for the energy entrepreneurs who are spending their spring break learning from the nonprofit organization Grid Alternatives.

"What we do is we provide sustainable renewable energy to low-income households," Grid Alternatives executive director Tom Esqueda said.

The group of seven Duke students are getting hands-on experience through the complete installation of solar panels.

"I've never really gone out and installed the panel and seen it in real life before," Sanghi said.

Solar Spring Break is giving these scholars the tools to help a local family.

"What we do is we focus on saving them at least 80 percent, using their last 12 months usage, and class is on the roof of this west-central Fresno home owned by Danette Bliss and her husband," Esqueda said.

"We're a low-income family," Bliss said. "I have two part-time jobs, my husband has a low-paying job."

When asked how it would feel to save on her monthly PG&E bill, she said it would be "wonderful, freedom, be able to have a little bit extra income for other things."

Between now and the end of the school year, Grid Alternatives will be completing 40 installations with high school students from the Central Valley.
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