Denver-based nonprofit Mercy Housing partnered with Promise Energy, Inc. to increase solar energy use across Mercy Housing’s portfolio of affordable housing throughout the US. The partnership will help low-income residents in multi-family dwellings who cannot otherwise afford to invest in or have the ability to install solar power to reap the benefits of lower energy costs.
Lower income residents often lack access to the up-front capital to afford a solar installation. They may also be unable to install solar because of limited roof space, lack of ownership, bad credit or other barriers. The new partnership gives residents of Mercy Housing developments access to solar power.
Under the partnership the organizations will install enough solar panels to provide energy for more 1,000 units of affordable housing (approximately 3 megawatts), reducing emissions by over 3,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year.
“Mercy Housing is really leading the way here by taking a strategic approach to solarizing its whole portfolio,” said Adam Boucher, CEO and founder of Promise Energy. “Relying exclusively on the local utility to provide power is no longer the only option for property managers. Instead, Mercy Housing is developing an integrated energy strategy to reduce consumption and lower energy costs.”
Thanks to an HUD Technical Assistance grant, through Mercy Housing’s commitment to the Renew300 program, the organization was able to make the arrangement with Promise Energy, allowing the solar projects to be financed under a solar power purchase agreement (PPA). That helps to minimize the upfront cost of installing solar panels. In this case, Promise Energy will pay for the installation and management of solar energy on the property at little or no upfront cost to Mercy Housing, who will then pay for the electricity generated by the solar panels, and providing residents with access to lower-cost energy.
“We are delighted that the HUD technical assistance was used to build capacity for Mercy Housing’s innovative approach.” said Crystal Bergemann, Senior Energy Analyst in the Office of Economic Resilience at HUD. “This partnership is groundbreaking; we are pleased to see a long-term commitment to the solarization of an entire national affordable housing portfolio, showing that solar works for low income communities.”
This and other recent programs, like Clean Energy Collective’s (CEC’s) partnership with Alpine Bank and Family & Intercultural Resource Center in Colorado are expanding access to solar power to those who can benefit the most through lowered electric bills, low-income residents.
Indeed, even when low-income residents aren’t directly benefiting from solar power an increasing body of research, like a recent study by Boston University, is showing that solar power benefits all utility customers. That study showed that solar power saved utility customers $184 million between 2010 and 2012 in Massachusetts alone, proving solar energy’s economic value to ratepayers.Tweet