By Cheyanne Gordon, Special to the AFRO

Residents of Minnesota Gardens Cooperative in Southeast, Washington, D.C., just received brand new roofs that were replaced at no cost. They also now have solar panels that will help them save energy on their electric bills for the next 20 years and received a solar canopy in the parking lot.

The installation is the result of a unique collaboration between New Columbia Solar and Amalgamated Bank recently announced at the Minnesota Gardens complex.

The solar company and the bank just announced a formal partnership that will result in nearly 12 megawatts of solar installations totaling about 100 sites, including churches, small businesses, parking canopies and low-income multi-housing units.

District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray, New Columbia Solar CEO Mike Healy, Minnesota Gardens Co-op President Grady Kanady (resident-owner) and other resident owners, and Ivan Frisberg, Director of Impact Policy Amalgamated Bank, at the ribbon cutting for the solar energy in the area. (Courtesy Photo)

Michael Healy, CEO of New Columbia Solar, said, “We are very excited to announce our partnership with Amalgamated Bank.  This is a real win-win! The residents can get their power from a solar system, and we were able to partner with the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) for an innovation grant.”

“We are providing  $25 million, not just to this particular project, but to a portfolio of projects that New Columbia Solar is doing across the District of Columbia. We are proud to be part of this kind of lending and help make the District of Columbia stronger.” Ivan Frishberg, director of impact policy, Amalgamated Bank.

The low-income residents of Minnesota Gardens purchased their building through the TOPA (Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act) with the help of University Legal Services.

Grady Kanady, president of the co-op and a long-time Minnesota Gardens resident, said this is a situation that works for everyone and is unique to communities where gentrification has meant displacement. 

Residents of Minnesota Gardens Cooperative, in Southeast, D.C. received brand new roofs, solar panels and a solar canopy in the parking lot due to a new partnership between New Columbia Solar and Amalgamated Bank. (Courtesy Photo)

“It is a wonderful thing to be able to stay here and get involved with that and participate in that and not have to worry about being priced out, because it is a pretty good bid if some developer would have come and brought the property they would’ve renovated and they would have just priced us out, and we wouldn’t have been able to stay,” Kanady said. “I love the fact that there are so many people involved. I didn’t know that this many people who are actually involved or cared enough to get involved with having people to have an affordable place to stay.”

Council member Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7), spoke at the ribbon-cutting announcing the partnership. “This helps us to fulfill the vision we had in creating the D.C. plan, Gray said.

“This will help bring down the energy bills. It will get people thinking they can have clean energy. We need to get rid of the use of coal throughout the nation actually throughout the world, hopefully over time. I appreciate the opportunity to see the excitement on the part of the residents of the Minnesota Gardens Cooperative,” Gray added.

The average residence will save about $500 a year on their electricity bills.

Healy said, “the company’s mission is to meet its clean energy goals, which the District of Columbia has put in place over the last ten years, but have really amped it up in 2018 through the Clean Energy Omnibus Act, which we are excited to see!”

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