JUNE 16, 2023, Washington, DC – On June 16, Groundswell, in partnership with Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church, SunLight General Capital, Working Power, and the Office of the People's Counsel, celebrated the newest DC Solar for All community solar array, which will bring the number of income-qualified DC residents receiving free solar electricity to more than 6,000 households, as a part of the DC Department of Energy and Environment’s (DOEE) Solar for All program.
The new 222 kWdc community solar array at Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church will provide 73 local, income-qualified households with up to $500 a year in clean energy savings through DC Solar for All. Since DC Mayor Muriel Bowser launched Solar for All in 2016, the program has saved its 6,000 community solar subscribers more than $5 million — in addition to savings to participants in the program’s rooftop solar option — with the goal of improving energy affordability and progressing environmental goals within the District.
Energy bill affordability is a major concern for many households, and DOEE analysis shows that 64% of low-income households across Metro DC face high energy burdens.
“The DC Solar for All program sets a national standard for how to build a clean energy future that embraces justice as a core value,” said Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore. “Our team is so grateful that DC is Groundswell’s hometown, and that we’re able to work with this team of purposeful partners to get good things done to serve our neighbors.”
SFA solar arrays are located throughout the District, and Rev. Juan Guthrie of Sargent Memorial Presbyterian said the church decided to host the solar array as part of their ongoing service to the surrounding community, and the congregation felt blessed by the opportunity to serve the community through every ray of sun that shines on the church.
"We are called by Christ to care for one another. Through this solar array, our congregation at Sargent Memorial is able to share God's gifts with our neighbors in the surrounding community," said Rev. Guthrie.
“Too often, the savings solar affords don't reach the people who need it most," said Erika Smith, SunLight General Capital's Director of Project Development and Operations. "SunLight felt honored to work with Groundswell and its team to develop and finance an important project bringing savings and clean energy to the broader DC community."
"Sargent Memorial solar shows what real climate leadership looks like by demonstrating that clean energy can build wealth and broaden opportunity," said Bracken Hendricks, co-founder of Working Power and Urban Ingenuity. "This project is an inaugural investment of the Working Power Impact Fund, which generates dedicated income for community groups to fund their social and economic justice work nationally. We're honored to join with Groundswell, Sargent, and the rest of this powerful team of leaders."
“DOEE is committed to an equitable clean energy future. Programs like Solar for All help our residents stay in the District and thrive in their communities while actively participating in the city's clean energy transition,” said DC DOEE Economist/Senior Program Analyst, Dr. Lance Loncke.
"Energy equity is critical if our communities are to thrive; not every consumer has the resources or a home that allows them to have energy independence. Programs that aggregate energy resources provide basic benefits to many more consumers. It is our mission to bring together the experts, those who can host, and consumers who can share cooperatively in the energy created," said Sandra Mattavous-Frye, People's Counsel for the District of Columbia.
Solar is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US, and community solar installations like the one at Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church have improved access to career opportunities within the communities they serve.
"I was fortunate to grow up in a family of contractors, and my grandfather was always passionate about extending second chances to people. I have extended that
practice into the way I do business, and I have seen these new opportunities change lives," said Brad Boston, SunCatch Energy Founder and President.
The project was constructed by Maryland Black-owned solar engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm, SunCatch Energy; was completed in partnership with the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), which manages construction for the Solar for All program in partnership with DOEE; was financed by SunLight General Capital, a woman-led clean energy investment firm; and was developed by Groundswell, a DC-based nonprofit.
Groundswell is a 501c3 nonprofit that builds community power through equitable community solar projects and resilience hubs, clean energy programs that reduce energy burdens, and pioneering research initiatives that help light the way to clean energy futures for all. Groundswell leads clean energy programs and projects in five states, including the District of Columbia, serving more than 5,500 income-qualified customers with more than $2.75 million per year in clean energy savings. Learn more at Groundswell.org.
Caption: Groundswell, in partnership with Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church, SunLight General Capital, and the Office of the People's Counsel, held a ribbon cutting to celebrate the completion of the solar array at Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church on Friday. The completion of the community solar project marks a major milestone for affordable clean energy in the District. (Photo by Alicia B. Hill | Groundswell)