Fort Chaplin

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Benefits all around

As the upfront costs of the Fort Chaplin system – the largest rooftop community solar system in D.C. – were covered by the District’s Solar for All program, and with SaveSolar at the helm, the building owner was able to not only finance rooftop maintenance, but increase revenue while allowing hundreds of income-qualifying residents to save up to $500 a year on their electric bills.

In conjunction with SaveSolar, Standard Companies worked at Fort Chaplin Park Apartments to expand affordability protections to 100% of residents – an improvement of nearly 30% – and complete a $33 million renovation of the property involving upgrading unit interiors, modernizing building systems and adding a 5,000 square foot, LEED-certified community center that offers extensive amenity and recreational space.

Improving the project’s energy efficiency credentials was an ideal post-rehabilitation opportunity, given the recently completed roofing which was the perfect canvass for a community solar system to provide discounted energy directly to the property’s moderate and low-income residents. Standard Companies was recognized with the 2019 Tax Credit Excellence Award by the Affordable Housing Tax Credit Coalition.

Community Solar for Affordable Housing

Under Washington, D.C.’s innovative Solar for All program, SaveSolar together with Standard Companies and New Columbia Solar, have equipped Fort Chaplin Park Apartments with a 100% renewable solar energy system.

At a time when people’s electricity bills are rising due to stay-at-home measures aimed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, more than 450 low and moderate-income households will receive affordable renewable energy for 15 years at no cost through the the District’s Solar for All program. (Click here to see if you qualify.)

A true win-win for all parties involved, this impressive community solar system spanning 45 buildings, will generate more than 1.5 million kWh of energy annually, equivalent to offsetting the greenhouse emissions of 229 cars per year. And it will save D.C. residents more than $2 million in energy savings over the life of the system.

Derwin Straight, a Fort Chaplin resident and Solar for All subscriber, spoke about his savings. “Last summer my bill was about $192 a month, but since I started receiving those saving from solar in about July, the bills have just been $40 to $60.”

He continued, “SaveSolar came through with some real help that people are needing right now with coronavirus and all. I can’t imagine getting the same bill as last year but during this pandemic – you all came right on time.”

The Challenge

The prime challenge was in designing and interconnecting the solar systems spanning 45 rooftops across two properties. Extensive site-surveys included a shading analysis which led to SaveSolar contributing funds for trimming in order to maximize system production and total revenue to Standard Companies. New Columbia Solar worked diligently to engineer a project with 15 different interconnections and worked with PEPCO to ensure they were all energized.

Project Design & Construction

A Consultative Approach

SaveSolar consulted closely with Standard Companies, at no cost, in order to fully assess the project prior to confirming financials and construction schedule. SaveSolar then:

  • Proposed an innovative rooftop-lease model whereby Standard Companies was able to immediately monetize their rooftop and generate a long-term revenue stream
  • Developed the project design and estimation (engaging New Columbia Solar and financing partners) and coordinated approvals from DCHFA and lenders
  • Submitted the project as part of the Solar for All 2019 program operated by the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) – ensuring that all energy will be provided to qualified households at no cost for 15 years
  • Created an innovating onboarding system for residents to complete their applications as part of the DOEE ‘Solar for All’ program

Once DCRA and PEPCO approvals were received, the project was constructed in less than 6 months, using market-leading components to maximize the financial benefits of solar and to provide Standard Companies with the highest possible return for their roof space.

Project Success Metrics

Project Information
Project size = 1.28 MW
Number of panels = ~ 3,300
SolarEdge inverters = 38
SolarEdge optimizers = 1,884
Customer Benefits
Customer out-of-pocket = $0
$33 million property renovation
Construction time = 4 months
New & immediate revenue stream
Community Solar Benefits
Community savings = +$2.2M
Resident savings = $500 a year
Households powered = 532
Offset emissions of 229 cars

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