2018 Washington Informer Sustainability Supplement
Increasing Economic Empowerment in the District of Columbia Through Community Solar
By Mike Healy, CEO
New Columbia Solar
Imagine being able to harness the power of the sun to save money on your electric bill.
For thousands of DC residents and millions of Americans, that is now a reality. More and more homes and businesses across the country are enjoying the benefits of solar power – less pollution, cost-savings, and more control over how their energy needs are met.
New Columbia Solar (NCS) is a local energy provider that strives to positively impact District residents and businesses by making solar energy accessible to everyone. Over the past two years, NCS has grown from a small group of industry leaders to an organization employing over 30 District residents. We’ve proudly invested over $20 million into District based solar energy systems that are now powering homes and businesses across our city with clean energy.
The Power of the Sun
How can solar energy benefit members of our community?
In addition to building and managing solar energy systems, our team is expert in financing solar projects that provide long-term benefits to our customers at no up-front cost. What this means is we can cut our customer’s electricity bills in half without the need for them to invest any money upfront. Instead, NCS bears the cost of the solar panels while providing our customers with immediate savings. What’s more, because solar energy has no fuel input costs – just Mother Nature’s beautiful sunshine – we can provide a flat, predictable energy price for up to 25 years.
Additionally, NCS can front-load our customer’s savings, enabling them to make capital upgrades to their facilities, such as roof-replacements, HVAC and boiler replacements, or other needed improvements. This unique service allows NCS to reinvest in our neighborhoods and extend the useful life of some of our most important social centers, all while powering our community with locally generated solar energy.
Community Solar For All
Generally, solar energy is accessed through panels directly placed on a building.
Through Community Solar, we are now able to utilize a single solar system to provide the benefits of solar energy anywhere in the city, creating a clean energy access point for dozens of residents and businesses.
For New Columbia Solar, the community is what we are about. We take pride that our company is located in the nation’s capital, the vast majority of our staff live here, and we train and employ DC residents across all eight wards. We provide low-income residents and seniors access to low-cost electricity and predictable energy prices.
Often, our company helps residents and businesses find solutions to problems that would typically make solar inaccessible. Take for example DC’s Ward 4 Celestial Church of Christ. Our goal – install panels on the roof of the church to enable 29 homes in the area to benefit from the use of the solar power. The problem? The roof was in disrepair and suffered from extensive leaks. Our team worked with the church to repair the building’s roof, and now Celestial Church of Christ has a brand-new roof with a 25-year useful life. When the solar system is turned on in a few weeks, these 29 homes will see lower electric bills for the lifetime of the solar system.
We also have an ongoing partnership with the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU), a non-profit that helps District residents, businesses and institutions save energy and money through energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. In March of this year, New Columbia Solar and the DCSEU successfully brought 792 kW of clean, renewable solar energy to three schools in the District’s community: Capital City Public Charter School, Academy of Hope Public Charter School and Paul Public Charter School. Each school will receive low-cost energy for the next 15 years, saving them an estimated total of $2.24 million. This directly translates into additional funds for school programming, facility upgrades and equates to about 40 new full-time teachers. Correspondingly, this partnership has enabled New Columbia Solar to expand our small business by hiring six new District-based employees.
As the CEO of New Columbia Solar, I am excited to continue our mission to make it as easy as humanly possible for District residents and businesses to benefit from solar energy. We are transforming how the District of Columbia is powered and invite you to join our journey. Together, we can move our community forward and inspire every city in the world to follow in our footsteps.
Michael Healy is the CEO of New Columbia Solar