St. Louis Puts Solar Power on Low Income Housing

Photo Credit: E. Andrew McKinney, Real Goods Solar

The St. Louis Housing Authority has installed solar power systems on its administrative headquarters and four affordable housing complexes. Real Goods Solar designed, installed and engineered the solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, which will produce 617 kilowatts of electrical power, reducing average common area electricity use at the residential complexes by 75% and the Authority’s by 15%.

Federal Housing and Urban Development Green Communities stimulus funds and energy redevelopment tax credits financed the project, a big part of which involved installing 405 SunPower and 2,216 Sharp solar panels. All the parts for the project were made in the USA, in compliance with requirements set out in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Producing some 777,000 kilowatt-hours/year, enough power per year for 81 homes, project developer Sunwheel Energy Partners’ Michael Steinbaum said that the project illustrates that “solar power isn’t just for large corporations or those with large incomes. It provides an opportunity for just about anyone to reduce costs and have a positive impact on the environment.”

Real Goods’ Tyson Grul commented that the project was one of the company’s most demanding, yet most rewarding.

“The coordination required to install systems on more than 90 buildings – in a wide variety of weather conditions – was no small feat. However, the result is the largest solar initiative in the state so far, and we believe it will open doors for many future projects – putting Missouri on the path to being a national renewable energy leader.”

In addition to roof-mounted solar panels, south-facing elevated carport canopy solar power arrays were installed, providing shade for parked vehicles as well as optimal exposure to sunlight.

Real Goods Solar has installed more than 11,500 solar electric systems for homes, schools and businesses, including in California, Colorado and the Northeast, as well as Missouri.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email:

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