By Leslie Zarker, ICF on Dec 05, 2017
This Fall, the Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver (DHA) launched the nation’s first housing authority-developed, owned, and operated 100% Low Income Community Solar Garden. The 2-megawatt, $3.8 million project will power affordable housing units in Denver and help low-income families and affordable housing developers reduce their energy bills. Subscribers could see their electricity bills reduced by as much as 20 percent. DHA estimates 500 to 700 homes will benefit from the solar panels.
Community solar gardens are centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) systems that provide electricity to participating subscribers. DHA’s program allows other Denver-area affordable housing providers to participate, and expects to provide an average energy savings of 20 percent to subscribers while offsetting over 54,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
DHA hopes the project will reduce the cost of building affordable housing units, stretching funding for new construction and providing more homes for needy families. DHA plans to have the solar panels completed and ready to operate by December 31 of this year.
The Solar Garden launch took place in the City of Aurora, Colorado’s SolarTAC, one of the largest test facilities for solar technologies in the United States. The 74-acre site will serve as home for both the project’s ground mount solar gardens and its career development facility. Project Manager GRID Alternatives Colorado, the nation’s largest nonprofit solar developer and job training organization, will provide affordable housing residents interested in entering the booming solar industry with hands-on training, certification, and employment throughout construction and beyond .
DHA’s Community Solar Program is being interconnected through Xcel Energy’s Solar RewardsCommunity® program. Project partners included GRID Alternatives Colorado, Ensight Energy Consulting, Solar Technology Acceleration Center, and Namaste Solar, with financing partners Enterprise Community Loan Fund, Monarch Private Capital, National Housing Trust–Financial Consultant, and the participation of several other key partners.
The program is the latest addition to DHA’s award-winning “Living Green” initiative, an on-going green building design and construction program.
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