DENVER, CO - Mercy Housing, one of the nation’s largest affordable housing nonprofits, is launching a partnership with Promise Energy, Inc. to increase solar energy use across Mercy Housing’s portfolio. Since affordable housing communities usually operate on thin margins and have limited roof space, they often struggle to implement solar energy programs. Through their partnership, Mercy Housing and Promise Energy intend to show that affordable housing can, and should, be solarized.
The partnership is the first of its kind to prioritize putting solar panels on affordable multifamily properties on such a large scale nationwide. This program involves installing three megawatts (3MW) or more of new solar capacity across Mercy Housing’s portfolio. These installations would provide solar for the equivalent of more than 1,000 units of affordable housing, and reduce emissions by more than 3,000 tons of CO2 each year.
The partnership will use private financing under a solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) model, which helps defray the upfront cost of installing solar panels. Solar PPAs are financial agreements in which one party (in this case, Promise Energy) pays for the installation and management of solar energy on a property (or properties) at little or no upfront cost to the customer (in this case, Mercy Housing). The customer then pays for the electricity the solar panels generate.
Mercy Housing was able to use a HUD Technical Assistance grant, as a result of their commitment to the Renew300 program, to develop a detailed Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to find a solar partner. Mercy Housing then conducted a nationwide search for a solar provider with knowledge of affordable housing. Promise Energy was selected for their considerable experience designing and financing solar solutions, and their proven track record of successfully serving multifamily affordable housing portfolios.
“We are delighted that the HUD technical assistance was used to build capacity for Mercy Housing’s innovative approach.” said Crystal Bergemann, Senior Energy Analyst in the Office of Economic Resilience at HUD. “This partnership is groundbreaking; we are pleased to see a long-term commitment to the solarization of an entire national affordable housing portfolio, showing that solar works for low income communities.”
“This approach allows us to achieve real economies of scale, and stay ahead of changes in rebates, regulations, and technology,” explained Rood. “What we’ve found in Promise Energy is a dynamic and dedicated partner who is able to both operate at a national scale and dive into the details of each project to come up with the best solution.”
“Mercy Housing is really leading the way here by taking a strategic approach to solarizing its whole portfolio,” said Adam Boucher, CEO and founder of Promise Energy. “Their solar commitment is timely because it reflects the fact that the energy landscape is undergoing an enormous transformation. Relying exclusively on the local utility to provide power is no longer the only option for property managers. Instead, Mercy Housing is developing an integrated energy strategy to reduce consumption and lower energy costs.”
By partnering with Promise Energy, Mercy Housing gains access to a team of experts and the resources needed to make decisions that will significantly improve the long-term performance of its communities. Promise Energy will be conducting property-level energy needs assessments, coordinating and maximizing rebates and incentives, and evaluating a variety of options to bring as much value to Mercy Housing’s projects as possible.
“Today, the decision to go solar needs to be considered in the context of the long-term needs of the property. When our team dives in, we consider the timing of current and future incentives, increasing sustainability requirements, and the lifecycle of each property to determine the best solution,” added Boucher.