Boulder Housing Partners (BHP) and GRID Alternatives (GRID) are finalizing the installation of a new solar garden in North Boulder that is 100% dedicated to offsetting energy use for low-income residents. The City of Boulder is providing financial support to this solar project to help maximize the utility bill savings for residents. The solar array is anticipated to begin producing renewable energy beginning in 2021.
The 3.8-acre solar garden is located on property owned by BHP in North Boulder next to the Gateway Park Fun Center (map). BHP has executed a land lease and solar subscription agreement with GRID, who installed the solar garden. This is the fourth project GRID and BHP have collaborated on.
BHP will use the estimated energy cost savings of $647,237 over 20 years to both reduce operating expenses and provide direct utility bill savings to its residents.
“Electricity costs are increasing faster than inflation, and this is one way to fix these costs for BHP and its residents—providing a long- term solution for sustainable and low cost energy for both,” said Jeremy Durham, executive director of BHP. “We are pleased to continue this important partnership with GRID.”
The solar garden will generate 19,277,306 kWh in the next ten years, offsetting an estimated 13,630 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of planting 225,000 trees.
“It is only through the leadership of organizations like BHP that our many residents residing in affordable housing can benefit from solar,” said Steve Catanach, director of climate initiatives for the City of Boulder. “This community solar garden will serve as a national model for how housing authorities can maximize the cost savings that solar can provide to their residents.”
“As one of the first solar gardens in Boulder County to be 100 percent dedicated to low-income households, this is a one of a kind project that showcases the values of BHP and the larger Boulder County community,” said Susie Strife, director of sustainabilty, climate action & resilience for Boulder County. “This is a terrific example of public-private partnerships making a difference for residents.”
GRID’s National Tribal Program managed installation of the solar garden, employing tribal members who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.
In 2016, BHP and GRID installed a solar array on the roof of BHP’s administrative building at 4800 N. Broadway, with funding from the City of Boulder, Boulder County and U.S. Department of Energy solar grants. The 21kW system will generate 775,000 kilowatt hours over 25 years, providing more than $130,000 in energy savings for Boulder Housing Partners and more than 200 hours of volunteer and job-training access. The project included a battery storage system installed by Independent Power Systems.
In 2018, BHP and GRID installed an 89kW solar garden and electric car charging stations at the new Palo Park affordable apartment community. The highly energy-efficient apartments and community design met or exceeded Boulder and Enterprise Green Communities requirements.
Also in 2018, GRID constructed a 160 kW solar garden in Platteville, Colorado for BHP. The system is expected to generate $136,000 in energy bill savings, while producing 5,122,000 kWh of electricity. That is the clean air equivalent of planting 98,700 trees or taking 816 vehicles off the road each year.
About GRID Alternatives
GRID Alternatives installs rooftop, community, and multifamily solar electric systems for income qualified households and affordable housing providers throughout the country, providing families with needed savings and training local workers for jobs in the growing solar industry.
Through their community solar program, GRID Alternatives is expanding access to the benefits of solar for families living with low or fixed incomes. GRID, in partnership with cooperative, municipal and investor-owned utilities, is developing the first community solar arrays in the country that exclusively benefit underserved communities, as well as collaborating with for-profit community solar developers to help ensure that the energy generated by their community solar systems are accessible to all. For more information, visit gridalternatives.org.
About Boulder Housing Partners
Boulder Housing Partners strives to make living in Boulder welcoming and affordable for people from a diverse range of backgrounds, regardless of income. The housing authority for the City of Boulder for over 50 years, BHP builds, owns, and manages quality affordable homes for low and moderate-income residents, while fostering thriving and sustainable Boulder communities.
BHP is one of a select group of public housing authorities in the United States participating in the prestigious Moving to Work program, which encourages innovation by providing flexibility in the use of federal funds. Its communities have won national and international awards for sustainability and affordable housing development.
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