Fairfax Village in Southeast, D.C. is one of the locations in Wards 7 and 8 that will host solar installations as part of a collaborative effort with DC Green and Flywheel Development. (Courtesy Photo)

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

Two Washington, D.C.-based organizations have announced their contribution in facilitating a green economy as the city transitions to running completely on renewable energy while creating a sustainable environment for its residents.

On May 17, DC Green Bank and Flywheel Development announced the closing of a $3.2 million partnership to finance the installation of solar panels at six condominium communities in Southeast Washington.

The Fairfax Village community will host most of the solar installations, in addition to other low-to-moderate income individuals residing in Wards 7 and 8. This solar energy initiative will not only reduce a considerable financial burden, but will also create job opportunities for residents of Southeast Washington, said DC Green Bank CEO Eli Hopson.

“We believe that inclusive prosperity is an essential and necessary core value of the DC Green Bank. Our purpose is to make sure that everyone in D.C. is able to participate in and see the benefits from the transition that’s coming to the clean economy,” Hopson said.

“If we were only making investments in large commercial buildings or with individuals who have the money to pay for these things already, then you’re not really seeing the benefits flow fairly and in an inclusive manner.”

Geographical, racial and gender diversity, along with affordable housing, are other commitments of the DC Green Bank, Hopson added.

This project marks the second straight year that DC Green Bank and Flywheel Development have partnered to produce a portfolio of projects that will serve a financial and environmental benefit for D.C. residents. 

In 2020, DC Green Bank, established by Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. City Council in 2018, and Flywheel Development, a sustainable development company active in real estate, solar development and stormwater management infrastructure, joined City First Enterprises to construct eight rooftop solar energy installations in Wards 4, 7 and 8, as part of DCSEU’s ‘Solar for All’ program.

Solar for All, an initiative operated by the D.C. Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), aims to provide 100,000 low-income households the benefits of solar electricity over the next decade or so and played a pivotal role in the latest solar installation project.

DC Green Bank is providing $1.7 million of construction loans in addition to more than $900,000 in funding from the Solar for All program to finance the project, which consists of supplying solar capacity and roof replacements for 11 condominium buildings.

Once completed, the installations will cut electricity bills in half for nearly 230 low-to moderate-income residents throughout Washington, and the portfolio of projects is expected to generate as much as $2.3 million in electricity savings for DC low-to-moderate-income residents over the next 15 years, according to a statement released by DC Green Bank. 

Roof replacements that will be administered on the 11 residential properties is expected to improve the energy efficiency and durability of the buildings. In total, 33 condominium buildings will receive solar capacity according to Jessica Pitts, principal and co-founder of Flywheel Development.

“The District is a leader in terms of structuring programs such as Solar for All, and really putting a priority on supporting low-to-moderate-income residents in helping them participate in the new green economy,” Pitts said.

The projects are expected to reduce nearly 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent annually and are projected to create 19 jobs during the construction phase, which began in May and will run to August.

According to Pitts, the jobs created as a result of the project will include project manager, site supervisors, solar team leaders, solar installers, heavy equipment operators and general laborers. The individuals occupying those tasks will complete the physical work of installing solar panels as well as working with the DCSEU on program documentation.

Flywheel Development anticipates the partnership with DC Green Bank being an ongoing collaboration, Pitts continued. 

“There’s not a lot of programs in other states that are this large or this advanced to provide this level of impact,” she said.

“I think the District has great programs, and we really enjoy working with the city, and we enjoy working with the Green Bank to help make all of this possible, and we of course enjoy working with the residents that are living in these communities.”

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