Groundswell Launches Share Power™, Revolutionizing How Community Solar’s Benefits are Shared
First Share Power™ project at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel expected to provide deep energy bill savings for 12 low-income households and clean solar energy for 38 market rate households in Washington D.C.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Groundswell, a local non-profit community solar developer, announced that it is officially enrolling subscribers into a new 151 kW community solar project at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel hosted by the Washington Province of Friars of the Discalced Carmelite Order, a historic campus in Northeast DC. Construction is complete and the project will be delivering electricity to 50 DC households by the end of the year. It is the first to launch under Groundswell’s Share Power™ program, which uses an innovative finance model inspired by the challenge to “love your neighbor as yourself” to provide 25 percent of the energy produced from the project at no cost to 12 income-qualified households, saving each approximately $500 per year on their electricity bills or more than $120,000 in aggregate savings for families over the 20-year life of the project.
Community solar enables anyone who pays a utility bill — whether they rent or own their home — to “subscribe” to locally-produced electricity from a nearby solar project. Subscribers to the program receive a credit on their utility bill, which typically offsets the subscription costs over the course of a year. Share Power™ was designed to make access to community solar easier for all by creating a hassle-free enrollment process, eliminating lengthy contracts, upfront payments and credit checks — all hurdles that have traditionally prohibited participation due to income level or credit score.
Through Share Power™, Groundswell is able to provide a portion of each project’s electricity to local income-qualified, “Empowered” households at no cost, helping to cut their monthly electricity bill in half. Empowered families often live in older, less efficient homes and apartments and therefore have a higher energy burden — meaning they pay a higher percentage of their income (around 10 percent on average) toward their energy bills. Sharing power helps build community power by reducing utility bills and providing energy burdened families more money for the essentials — rent, groceries, school supplies, healthcare costs, and more.
“Energy is not a luxury, the sun shines for everyone, and solar power should generate savings for the people who need it the most,” said Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell. “Share Power™ was directly inspired by the challenge to ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ We’re fulfilling the promise of a green economy by enabling neighbors to share power and savings with neighbors who need those savings the most.”
Groundswell’s project finance model is also an important differentiator because it eliminates financial barriers for people purchasing electricity from the project. By treating community solar like a small utility instead of a big rooftop, Groundswell’s community solar model requires no consumer credit checks or long-term contracts for participation – which could open the community solar market for millions of people who have been excluded.
Project development and financing was provided by SunLight General Capital and they will also own and operate the solar array located at the monastery. "SunLight General is proud to have partnered to develop this solar project in the District of Columbia,” said SunLight General co-founder, Stacey Hughes. “Through the community solar program, this project is aligned with the District's environmental goals, will help to support the mission of a not-for-profit religious organization, and will cut electricity bills in half for participating low-to-moderate income residents.”
The project hosts, the Discalced Carmelite Friars of Washington, D.C. were inspired by the community-oriented vision, St. Teresa of Jesus of Avila, who founded the order in the sixteenth century.
“What a fine way to observe the commandment to ‘Love your neighbor’ through this project,” said Friar Salvatore of the Discalced Carmelite Friars. “We’re pleased to be serving our surrounding communities by generating electricity that will benefit our neighbors, while fulfilling our obligation to care for and protect our common home, the planet Earth.”
Ipsun Solar, a solar energy contractor headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, that balances purpose and profits to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy, installed the 151-kilowatt ground-mounted system which will be among the first pollinator-friendly photovoltaic (PV) projects in DC.
To learn more or sign up for community solar, go to Groundswell.org/friars. This project is the first of a series of Share Power™ community solar projects coming to the District of Columbia in the coming year.
To learn more about Share Power™ and other Groundswell projects visit www.groundswell.org.
Groundswell is a 501c3 nonprofit that builds people-centered solar projects that deliver energy equity and economic opportunity. From project development to project finance, and from construction to customer enrollment and support, we focus on the “community” in community solar. Our solar projects leverage private capital for social good – providing real investment, good jobs, locally generated clean power, and deep energy savings to our neighbors who need it the most.
ABOUT SUNLIGHT GENERAL CAPITAL
SunLight General Capital develops, finances, owns and operates solar energy projects, with a focus on mid-size arrays for commercial and not-for-profit organizations. We help our clients gain access to clean, affordable renewable energy – usually at a discount to utility prices. The team has worked together since 2009 and has developed more than 150 solar projects, in an aggregate amount over 50 MW.
ABOUT IPSUN SOLAR
Ipsun Solar is a full EPC company. That’s engineering, procurement and construction of solar. They are a certified B-Corporation that performs residential, commercial and utility-scale solar panel installations focusing on the Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland area.