Keene Housing Advances Social Equity and Clean Energy
Upcoming Stories | December 30, 2020 | Posted by Jill McLaughlin
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Access to solar energy is expanding once again for those in need in the Monadnock region. In 2018, Keene Housing added solar arrays to its Harper Acres property. In 2019, in the second round of clean energy transitions for the affordable housing nonprofit, grid-tied rooftop solar arrays totaling 244.9 kilowatts were installed at Forest View Apartments along Harmony Lane. And in 2020 the third solar project at Keene Housing has wrapped up; a 98-kilowatt array was just installed on the roofs of Keene Housing’s North Street and Gilsum Street Apartments.
Like the previous two arrays, the North and Gilsum project was installed at no upfront cost to Keene Housing and greatly increases solar access. This solar panel project contributes to Keene Housing’s long-term goal of relying 100% on renewable energy by 2035. Keene Housing’s energy efficiency and production strategies align with a Keene City Council resolution that encourages the city and its residents to eventually generate 100% of their electricity from renewable sources.
“We are very excited to take this next step towards reaching our goal of being 100% renewable by 2035,” said Keene Housing executive director Josh Meehan. “Thanks to our partnership with ReVision we’re reducing our operating costs while significantly reducing our real estate portfolio’s carbon footprint.”
The North and Gilsum Street project includes 302 solar panels that will generate over 113,000 kilowatt-hours of solar electricity and offset approximately 55 tons of carbon pollution each year. The Forest View project includes 801 solar panels, and the Harper Acres project includes 300 solar panels. All three projects combined, Keene Housing will be producing over 465,000 kilowatt-hours of clean solar energy a year, offsetting over 250 tons of carbon pollution.
ReVision Solar Impact Partners (RSIPs) own the arrays through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Keene Housing. Under the terms of the agreement, the nonprofit initially agrees to purchase electricity at a negotiated rate below grid cost. After six years, Keene Housing will have the option to purchase the systems at a significant discount, enabling the housing authority to generate free solar power for decades to come. The PPA gives Keene Housing the ability to leverage the economic and environmental benefits of solar power while affording the impact partners an opportunity to make community investments that express their commitment to environmental sustainability.
Under the terms of the RSIP program, impact investors provide capital to build solar projects. Investors earn a modest rate of return through payments made for solar generation, tax incentives and other project benefits while solar installers benefit from a steady pipeline of work. The nonprofit entering into the agreement receives a reduced electric bill plus the environmental benefits of generating clean electricity. The three arrays are expected to save Keene Housing almost $3 million in electricity costs over the lifetime of the systems.