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“The Sunshine is Free, the Power is Clean”: A Big LISC Investment in Renewable Energy

LISC D.C. joined forces with the Community Preservation and Development Corporation and the National Housing Trust to bring solar energy to 12 affordable housing communities in the nation's capital. LISC provided the largest investment, a $1.2 million loan, to the project, which will lower costs and the carbon footprint for residents of 2,200 apartments. And this is just the beginning. 

Photos courtesy Community Preservation & Development Corp.

This week, LISC D.C. helped inaugurate a visionary—and commonsense—solar energy installation project that will bring green power and income to 12 affordable housing communities in the nation’s capital.

The $4 million initiative wrangled a complicated financing arrangement and multiple partners, with LISC providing the largest investment, a $1.2 million loan. Other partners include the National Housing Trust (NHT), whose Community Development Fund provided a $950,000 loan, and Monarch Private Capital who brought $1 million in Solar Investment Tax Credits to the deal.

The solar panels are owned and operated by Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), a veteran affordable housing group in D.C. and a subsidiary of Enterprise Community Partners. The panels were installed at CPDC-run apartment complexes housing some 2,200 units. Residents, all of whom live at 30 to 80 percent of A.M.I., include seniors, families and residents with disabilities. The project will reduce utility bills for common areas, elevators and lighting.

Brand new solar panels on the Oxford Manor housing community in Washington D.C.
Brand new solar panels on the Oxford Manor housing community in Washington D.C.

“The DC affordable housing network is like an ecosystem, so it makes sense for LISC, CPDC, and NHT to collaborate on such an innovative clean energy project,” said Ramon Jacobson, LISC D.C.’s executive director. “The financing structure of this project is complex, but the sunshine is free and the power is clean. We are proud our investment is making the air cleaner and energy cheaper for so many low-income Washingtonians.”

LISC’s $1.2 million loan will be repaid through Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), part of a federal program that encourages the adoption of solar electricity. The credits ensure that power companies can meet their quotas for generating energy from renewable sources. A utility that does not produce its own green energy has the option of purchasing solar generated by companies such as CPDC. CPDC expects to sell some 1,250 SRECs at $275-$300 per unit.

Ten percent of the project funding came from the Department of Energy and Environment’s Solar for All initiative, which aims to expand solar capacity in the District by 10% and to reduce the electric bills of at least 100,000 low- to moderate-income households. Solar for All projects, such as this one, not only increase access to solar for people living in affordable housing and reduce carbon emissions, but also create green jobs.