Washington continues to push solar installs, but in a more tangible way this time, as the District of Columbia’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (DC PACE) Program announced $700,000 in financing for the installation of solar and energy efficiency equipment as part of the Phyllis Wheatley Young Women’s Christian Association (Phyllis Wheatley YWCA) $17 million redevelopment.
The Phyllis Wheatley YWCA renovation demonstrates a new and exciting use of PACE financing for affordable housing, setting a precedent for the agency. This is the first time that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has approved the use of PACE for a HUD-assisted mixed finance public housing property.
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“Consistent with the President’s Climate Action Plan, HUD continues to enter into initiatives such as PACE and the Better Buildings Challenge. We applaud this innovative use of Multifamily Property Assessed Clean Energy and look forward to the outcome,” noted U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) National Capital Area Office Director Marvin Turner.
The President’s plan sets a goal of installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy across federally-subsidized housing by 2020. The roof of the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA will support 30 kW of solar upon project completion.
DC PACE, a program of the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), will authorize financing for solar power and deep energy and water upgrades that will help the property run more efficiently. Savings from those improvements will help pay for the new equipment and reduce the building’s utility costs.
“PACE financing is an important economic development tool that drives new private capital investment into deep utility savings projects that preserve affordable housing and cut utility bills for District residents,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells.
The nearly $6,000 in decreased annual utility bills will generate more resources for the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA to provide supportive services and assisted housing. Capital for the PACE assessment was provided by Amalgamated Bank as part of their commitment to community investment in Washington, D.C. Located at 901 Rhode Island Avenue NW, this historic community institution has provided critical services to women in need for more than 100 years.
Urban Ingenuity, the program administrator for the DC PACE program, is working with The Solar Foundation, through a funding award from the US Department of Energy, to make PACE financing available for low-income housing and other civic institutions nationwide.
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“At a time when solar energy is growing exponentially around the country, smart policies like PACE financing can make renewable energy a cornerstone of community-based economic development,” said Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “PACE is a vital part of the infrastructure necessary to build a clean energy economy and this project is a good example of how it can be applied.”
“PACE financing was essential to the development of this project,” said Buwa Binitie, Managing Principal of Dantes Partners. “PACE allowed us to invest in high-efficiency equipment and solar panels that will save money for the YWCA operating budget down the road.”
— Solar Builder magazine
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