New Partnership Promises Growth of Community Solar Projects

Washington, DC – A new partnership announced was announced in late January 2019 between Infrastructure DC and Groundswell promises to expand the number of community solar projects dedicated to benefiting low-income households.

Infrastructure DC, an initiative of the Federal City Council, is a non-profit corporation that provides alternative financing and project delivery options for sustainable infrastructure projects in the DC metro region, with the mission of accelerating investment through public-private partnerships. Groundswell, is a non-profit developer and subscription services provider for community solar projects that offer deep energy savings to low income households. Their partnership connects the pieces – site selection, financing, project management, workforce development, community engagement, and customer support – necessary to move successful community-benefiting solar projects from start to completion.

“We view a project’s social and environmental returns as equally important as its financial returns,” said Maura Brophy, Director of Transportation and Infrastructure with Federal City Council and Managing Director of Infrastructure DC. “Our partnership with Groundswell will help us reach the DC families we need to advance equity in the generation of renewable energy.”

“Throughout its history, the Federal City Council has worked to incubate and launch initiatives that deliver innovative solutions to the unique challenges facing the District,” said Anthony Williams, CEO and Executive Director of Federal City Council and Chairman of the board of Infrastructure DC. “Infrastructure DC is an example of this, and this new partnership will expand IDC’s ability to achieve its mission of accelerating investments in infrastructure and delivering projects that have a meaningful social impact”.

IDC and Groundswell will work together to identify business and building owners that may provide host sites for equitable community solar power generation. Solar panels are built on roofs, parking lots or open spaces and in return, owners receive an annual lease payment. The panels produce electricity metered by the utility company. The utility company distributes the electricity to local households that subscribe to community solar and families receive a credit on their monthly bill, allowing neighbors to share the benefits of locally generated solar power.

Unique among community solar models, Groundswell’s Share PowerTM program opens up the benefits of solar power to anyone who pays an electricity bill, eliminating unfair financial hurdles such as homeownership requirements, long-term contracts, and income and credit requirements that exclude most people from the solar market. Subscribing to community solar through Groundswell’s Share PowerTM enables participants to benefit from locally-generated solar power, and also help their neighbors by sharing that same power at no cost to low-income households who are able to cut their energy bills nearly in half.

“Our mission is building community power, and our work enables neighbors to help neighbors,” said Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell. “DC is Groundswell’s hometown, and we’re grateful to partner with Infrastructure DC to develop solar projects that directly reflect our values as a local community. Solar power means economic empowerment, and respecting our neighbors and neighborhoods mean making sure everyone has access.”

In the coming months, Infrastructure DC and Groundswell will use their partnership to evaluate and pursue new community solar projects, in advance of the District’s long-term renewable energy goals.