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DC Sustainable Energy Utility opens more than $10 million in funding for LMI community solar projects

Written by: Leonard Parker | solar news | September 15, 2021

Ipsun Solar installs a project in Washington, DC.

The DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) has issued an RFP offering more than $10 million in incentives to contractors and developers to build community solar projects as part of the District of Columbia’s Solar for All program. Solar for All is Mayor Muriel Bowser’s initiative to provide 100,000 low-to-moderate income (LMI) families with the benefits of locally generated clean energy, one of the largest LMI solar energy and decarbonization efforts in the country.

The program, which was launched in 2016 by the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) and has been operated by the DCSEU since 2018, is designed to cut electricity costs in half for low- to moderate-income DC residents for 15 years, all at no cost to residents themselves. Residents can access the program in two ways: working with a participating contractor to install solar systems directly on the rooftop of single-family homes, or by subscribing to Solar for All Community Solar, which provides qualifying residents with electricity bill credits from the power generated by larger community solar systems installed across the District.

“I’m proud of Mayor Bowser’s commitment to cut fossil fuel use by 50% in 10 years,” said Tommy Wells, director of DOEE. “Our city’s significant investment in solar power will help us meet this ambitious goal.”

FY 2022 will be the fourth year that the DCSEU has operated Solar for All. By the end of FY 2021, the DCSEU expects to have installed enough community solar to cut electricity costs by 50% for up to 5,800 families for the next 15 years. Over those 15 years, these families will save as much as $40 million on their electricity costs.

“The District’s Solar for All program drives economic opportunity for District businesses, green job opportunities for residents, and most importantly, savings opportunities for DC families who need it most,” said Ted Trabue, managing director of the DCSEU. “We’re honored to work with DOEE on this vital program and look forward to continuing to help the District achieve its renewable energy goals while ensuring DC residents can access the benefits of the clean energy economy.”

The DCSEU is seeking contractors and developers, especially District-based Certified Business Enterprises (CBEs), to install community solar projects. In FY 2022, the DCSEU expects to award more than $10 million in funding to contractors and developers to support community solar installations under the program, with a goal of installing enough community solar to cut electricity bills in half for an additional 2,000 income-qualified families in DC. The DCSEU also plans to launch a second RFP in September seeking contractors and developers to install solar directly on the rooftops of single-family homes for income-qualified residents.

Solar for All supports the District’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) Expansion Amendment Act of 2016, which aims to provide the benefits of solar energy to 100,000 low-income households by 2032. The program also supports the District’s Clean Energy DC climate and energy plan, mandating that 100% of the District’s energy supply must come from Tier 1 renewable energy sources by 2032. By 2041, at least 10% of that energy must come from solar energy generated within the District.

Contractors and developers interested in participating in Solar for All can download the RFP at Responses are due on October 19, 2021. Selected bidders are expected to be awarded in November 2021.

News item from the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU)

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