Solar energy for all

Community Action for Better Housing, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Ed Allard, Director of Housing Development at New Bedford’s Community Action for Better Housing (CABH) says that, as an organization, they have long been interested in solar energy. “It’s a source of green energy, and it’s healthy for the environment.” But the problem is that lots of the buildings they own are historic, and the rooflines just aren’t conducive to solar panels. So they were excited when BCC brought them an opportunity to benefit from virtual net-metering.

 BCC has built two large ground-mounted shared solar installations in Onset, Massachusetts. With approximately 10,000 panels, the installation will generate enough energy to power around 1,060 houses annually. The energy flows to the grid, earning BCC net metering credits to apply to an electricity bill. BCC, in turn, is selling those credits to CABH and other affordable housing developments at a discounted fixed rate, offsetting up to 85% of the electricity costs for 19 affordable housing developments—none of which could have put solar on their own roofs. This will cut the properties’ total electricity cost by 17% and keep that rate constant for a minimum of 10 years, generating savings of at least $3.3 million.

 Allard continues, “BCC said they were developing a [solar installation] and were looking for nonprofit clients to sign on to get electricity at a lower cost. It’s good for the environment; it’s also a cost-saving option for us. We decided to sign on.” CABH was also pleased to have BCC as the provider. “I’m not sure we would have done it with anyone else,” Allard says. “We did a project with BCC 11 years ago and they were very helpful; they have a great track record.” 

Photo credit: Marilyn Humphries

in energy savings over 10 years