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Public-Private Partnership Brings Solar PV to Denver Affordable Housing

The Denver Housing Authority (DHA) intends to add more than 2.5-MW of solar power to 387 affordable single-family residences by next April, a project that brings together local private sector businesses and public sector organizations in a partnership and project that will add to the value of real estate and reduce electricity bills.

DHA will have 668 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems installed on property sites by Boulder, Colorado-based solar PV systems installer and project developer Namaste Solar. One of the city's largest projects, Namaste, is to install 10,471 240-watt solar panels manufactured by SolarWorld Americas, with project completion slated for April 2013, according to a DHA press release.

"Once all of the photovoltaic arrays are installed in April 2013, the systems will collectively
generate an average of 3.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is an annual reduction of 3,479 tons of carbon dioxide, which is the equivalent to planting 267,624 total trees," DHA stated.

Clean, renewable electricity at reduced cost

"At DHA, we are constantly looking for better and smarter ways to run our business and carry out our mission. Entering into a Power Purchase Agreement with our partners at Oak Leaf and Enfinity makes good business sense,” commented Ismael Guerrero, DHA’s executive director. "Through this innovative financing structure, DHA will be able to purchase long-term power, from renewable energy sources located on our housing units, with no upfront capital investment on our part. This is good for DHA, good for the environment, and good for the communities we serve.”

Under the terms of a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA), DHA will pay around $0.109 cents per kilowatt-hour (Kwh) for the clean, renewable electric power the PV systems generate. That's slightly less than what it's been paying Xcel Energy for electricity. In addition, DHA will realize savings in future years, as the PPA's contract price will increase 3.5% annually, less than the 5% annual increases that have typified utility rate increases.

“Each partner brought a level of commitment, experience, and creativity to the process that was critical in enabling this project to become a reality. With more than 40 new hires for this project alone, Namasté Solar now has over 100 employees dedicated to propagating the use of solar electricity in Colorado and beyond,” added Blake Jones, President & CEO of Namasté Solar.

Oak Leaf Energy Partners is responsible for site planning and interconnection analysis, as well as structuring the tax and financial aspects of the project.

"This project was the most complicated and challenging of any of the 35 solar projects we have completed to date but also, perhaps, the most compelling and beneficial," Oak Lear partner John Hereford was quoted as saying.

Enfinity America Corporation is the project's financing partner. It owns and operates the panels, though DHA has the option to purchase the systems over their useful life, at years 6, 10 or 15. Project partners have estimated that installing the solar PV systems will add $10,000 to the value of each single-family residence.

Photo credit: Edmund Tse via Flickr

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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