Keene Housing, ReVision Energy to cut ribbon on solar-powered affordable housing

Keene housing

A ribbon-cutting is now set for October 29 at Keene Housing in Keene, NH, to celebrate its solar energy transition. The Monadnock Region nonprofit provides affordable housing for those in need. Last year, Keene Housing (KH) added grid-tied solar arrays totaling 91.5 kW to nine buildings at its Harper Acres property. In a second phase, solar arrays totaling 244.86 kW were installed this fall at Forest View Apartments, Keene Housing’s 39-unit property along Harmony Lane. The Forest View project includes seven residential buildings and one community building.

“We are thrilled to be moving forward with our second solar project with ReVision in as many years,” said Keene Housing Executive Director Joshua Meehan. “Every dollar we save on electricity is a dollar we can invest in our real estate portfolio, improved resident services and the development of additional affordable housing.”

The solar electric systems are part of a comprehensive energy efficiency transition that also includes air source heat pumps for heating and cooling. 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.

The Forest View project includes 742 solar panels that will generate roughly 250,000 kilowatt-hours of solar electricity and offset approximately 163 tons of carbon pollution each year. The Harper Acres project includes 300 solar panels that generate over 100,000 kilowatt-hours of solar power and offset roughly 60 tons of carbon pollution annually.

The ReVision Solar Impact Partners model

ReVision Solar Impact Partners (RSIPs) owns the Harper Acres solar array and a local impact investor partner owns the Forest View solar array through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Keene Housing. Under the terms of the agreements, 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 system at a significant discount, enabling the housing authority to generate free solar power for decades to come.

The PPAs give 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. Keene Housing receives a reduced electric bill plus the environmental benefits of generating clean electricity.

The Forest View arrays are expected to save Keene Housing more than $2 million over the life of the system if the nonprofit exercises its future purchase option. The Harper Acres project is forecast to save $500,000 in electricity costs.

— Solar Builder magazine


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