Clean Energy States Alliance Launches Major Initiative to Advance Solar in Under-Resourced Communities

US Department of Energy Funds CESA’s Efforts to Scale Up Solar for Low-and Moderate-Income Households

Montpelier, VT (October 3, 2019) – The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) will lead a wide-ranging initiative to accelerate the development of solar projects that benefit low-and-moderate-income (LMI) households and communities. The “Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project” is being supported by a three-year funding award of $1.1 million from the US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

The project team will focus on three distinct subsets of the LMI solar market: single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily affordable housing.

For the single-family homes component of the initiative, CESA will work with Connecticut Green Bank, Inclusive Prosperity Capital, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and PosiGen Solar to evaluate and promote a successful initiative that has brought solar to more than 2,500 Connecticut single-family homes, most of which are LMI. State agencies from across the country will be given the opportunity to join a working group where they will receive technical assistance and other support to consider adopting similar programs for their states.

For manufactured homes, CESA, with assistance from representatives of the New Mexico Energy Conservation and Management Division, will examine the potential for using solar to power manufactured homes in different states, based on their housing stock, solar policies, geography, and the applicability of different possible technologies. State government agencies, rural electric cooperatives, municipal utilities, and other stakeholders will be encouraged to join a learning network to explore the potential for launching a pilot project or program for manufactured homes.

The multifamily affordable housing component of the project will build on work carried out by Clean Energy Group (CEG) in conjunction with the Kresge Foundation. CEG and CESA will work with housing developers/owners and community development lenders to replicate and expand loan guarantee and other foundation program-related investment (PRI) models for solar and solar plus battery storage (solar+storage) projects for multifamily affordable housing. Principal objectives will be to increase community resilience and reduce energy costs for low-income households.

CESA has worked actively on LMI solar more than five years. CESA Executive Director Warren Leon remarks that: “CESA is committed to helping state governments and other stakeholders implement solar in ways that provide meaningful benefits to under-resourced communities. The new grant from the US DOE solar office will enable us to significantly expand our outreach and assistance.”

To carry out the new initiative and other work CESA is engaged in related to solar for LMI communities, two talented individuals with strong experience working on this topic have been added to the CESA staff.

CESA Project Director Nicole Hernandez Hammer is a well-known environmental justice advocate, climate change expert, and sea-level researcher. A Guatemalan immigrant, she has worked to address the disproportionate impacts of climate change on under-resourced communities across the US. For the past year, she has been a consultant to the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources, working primarily with community groups on LMI solar. She was a climate science and community advocate at the Union of Concerned Scientists and assistant director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, among other positions. She was recently recognized by NBC as one of the #NBCLatino20

Laura Schieb, CESA project associate, earned a JD at Vermont Law School, as well as an LLM in Energy Law with a Certificate in Climate Law. While at the law school, she was employed as a Global Energy Law Fellow, implementing projects at the Energy Law Clinic, including leading a team preparing a report on low-income solar ownership in Vermont.

To learn about or to sign up for updates about the new Scaling Up Solar for Under-Resourced Communities Project, go to www.cesa.org/projects/low-income-clean-energy/scaling-up-lmi-solar/.

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About the Clean Energy States Alliance 
The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a national nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. CESA members—mostly state agencies—include many of the most innovative, successful, and influential public funders of clean energy initiatives in the country. CESA facilitates information sharing, provides technical assistance, coordinates multi-state collaborative projects, and communicates the achievements of its members. For more information, visit www.cesa.org.

About the Solar Energy Technologies Office
The US Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office supports early-stage research and development to improve the affordability, reliability, and performance of solar technologies on the grid. Learn more at energy.gov/solar-office.

For more information, contact: Nate Hausman, Project Director, Clean Energy States Alliance, [email protected]

Ph: 802-223-2554 x206

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Connecticut Green Bank Multifamily Housing Program Surpasses 100 Project Milestone

Five-year-old program has financed more than $34 million in energy upgrades for affordable multifamily properties

 

Rocky Hill, Conn. (Sept. 24, 2019) – The Connecticut Green Bank is proud to announce that its Multifamily Housing Program has provided financing and technical assistance to more than 100 funded multifamily projects since the program’s inception in 2014. 

Through its various products, the Green Bank’s Multifamily Program, along with financing partners’ Capital for Change and the Housing Development Fund, has deployed over $34 million in financing for energy efficiency, solar and health and safety upgrades.  This capital has been used to fund individual energy projects as well as energy upgrades that are part of larger renovation or new construction projects – with $160 million total capital outlay for all project costs. 

“We are pleased with the accomplishments of our Multifamily program, which has touched more than 8,000 housing units in Connecticut that serve low- and moderate-income residents,” said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Green Bank. “While there is still plenty of work to do, this investment is helping to improve the lives and health of families and reduce the energy burden on property owners.

The Program enables multifamily property owners to design and implement energy improvements that reduce energy, maintenance and other operating costs, improve the living environment for residents, and increase property values. The Program also funds remediation of important health and safety issues. Savings resulting from energy improvements are often used to fund other needed capital improvements. Through this approach, the Green Bank is helping to preserve critical affordable housing resources in Connecticut. This is especially important because of the affordable housing shortage in the state and budget challenges which limit public funding for this sector. 

Funded projects include a range of energy-related upgrades, for example, new, efficient HVAC equipment, building envelope improvements, and energy saving controls.  A hydroelectric project and more than 5 megawatts of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems have also been installed.  On the health and safety front, roofs can be repaired or replaced to prevent mold and other moisture related air quality issues from leaks, which is especially important if a property is to be weatherized and sealed. 

Funding is specifically designed to accommodate restrictions on existing debt or other covenants that might prevent a property owner from moving forward with a project.  For example, if additional mortgage debt is prohibited, a common occurrence, the Program will provide unsecured project financing. Solar programs are specifically designed so that non-profits and housing authorities, unable to take advantage of tax credits and other incentives, can still “go solar” and take advantage of long term, lower electricity costs.

The Program predominantly provides financing for existing housing that serves low- and moderate-income residents in Connecticut.  This includes subsidized, rent restricted properties as well as non-subsidized housing.

“The Green Bank will often take on properties that are in physical and financial distress but can be resuscitated by lowering high energy and related maintenance costs.  These are properties that traditional lenders are often unable to finance.  We understand how to underwrite and support owners in making these projects work.” said Kim Stevenson, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Inclusive Prosperity Capital, the non-profit that manages the Multifamily Program on behalf of the Green Bank. “However, we could not accomplish our work without the support of a dedicated group of professional service providers, contractors, property owners and managers, and partners, including the Affordable Housing Alliance of Connecticut, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, Connecticut Department of Housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and many others.”

For more information on the Multifamily Program, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com/multifamily.

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Seabury Cooperative receives financing to preserve and improve their property

UHAB, HDF and the Connecticut Green Bank partner to provide technical assistance and financing to increase housing cooperative’s viability

 

New Haven, Conn. (Aug. 13, 2019) – The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB) announces the closing of an initial loan that is the first installment of a more than $500,000 operating bridge loan for Seabury Cooperative. Located at the corner of Elm and Howe Streets in New Haven, Seabury Cooperative is a two-building complex with 88 affordable apartments. The UHAB financing also allows the Housing Development Fund (HDF) and the Connecticut Green Bank to provide further pre-development financial support for energy- and health/safety-related design and improvements. Together, this financing will help preserve important affordable housing in the city by increasing occupancy, improving the property, and reducing energy costs.

“Creating and preserving cooperative housing like Seabury is our mission” said Andrew Reicher, Executive Director of UHAB. “We are excited that our training, technical assistance and bridge lending could help preserve this important affordable housing resource in New Haven.”

Built in 1973, Seabury has all electric HVAC systems. As the property has aged, the electricity costs have risen significantly (50% from 2013 to 2015). Under this strain, residents reached out to their utility provider, the United Illuminating Company (UI), who conducted an energy audit and referred them to the Connecticut Green Bank for technical and financing assistance.

“The resident-owners of Seabury are excited to move ahead with long needed improvements to our home,” said Demetria Lindsey, President of the Cooperative Board. “We are looking for families and seniors of low or moderate income who would like to be part of our community.”

The Green Bank and UHAB began working together to help Connecticut cooperatives in late 2017. This partnership includes technical assistance to individual cooperatives as well as outreach to the affordable cooperatives in the state. Working with the Connecticut Housing Coalition they held a statewide training for cooperative boards members in the spring of 2018 and continue to provide technical assistance at properties facing high energy costs.

The financing from HDF and the Green Bank will be used to cover the costs of pre-development work necessary to secure permanent financing for the project. This will include the contracting of an architectural and engineering team to plan and design the replacement of the HVAC systems, evaluating the addition of roof insulation and new windows, investigate other energy and health and safety issues, and bidding out the construction work.

“HDF is proud to be partnered with UHAB and The Connecticut Green Bank on this project,” said Joan Carty, President and CEO of HDF. “It is a great example of like-minded organizations coming together to simultaneously improve energy efficiency and preserve desperately needed affordable housing for the residents of the Seabury Cooperative.”

“The partnership between UHAB and the Green Bank is a natural fit,” said Kim Stevenson, Director of Multifamily Programs at the Green Bank. “We are focused on helping residents and property owners reduce their energy expenses through the financing of renewables and efficiency projects. UHAB understands cooperatives and how to train residents on key skills needed to manage their properties. Together, we are making a difference in the long-term sustainability and financial viability of these important communities.”

Limited equity co-ops like Seabury provide home ownership opportunities that are permanently affordable in communities that are increasingly unaffordable to low-income households. Having provided affordable housing for nearly 50 years, this co-op will be rehabbed and updated focusing particularly on energy, health and safety measures, and will be able to provide affordable home ownership for another 50 years. Co-ops are an affordable housing solution that lasts.

The New Haven Independent wrote a follow-up article about the work at Seabury. Read the article here.

About UHAB

The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board was born in the midst of New York City’s economic crisis of the 1970s. With landlords abandoning their buildings en masse, the city found itself with more than 11,000 buildings on hand and no idea what to do with them. UHAB became a voice for the residents living in those buildings – longtime New Yorkers who had no intention of leaving. Turning buildings over to their residents to manage began as an experiment. But soon the city was convinced that this revolutionary approach could be sustained. The first year UHAB offered training, in Harlem, residents of 200 buildings learned how to cooperatively govern and operate their own multi-family dwellings. UHAB has now assisted in the preservation of more than 1,600 buildings (comprising 1,350 housing cooperatives), creating homeownership opportunities for residents of more than 30,000 apartments. For more information, please visit http:\\www.uhab.org.

About the Housing Development Fund (HDF)

The Housing Development Fund, Inc was established in 1989 as a nonprofit organization to finance the development of affordable housing in Stamford, CT. Today we have offices in Stamford, Bridgeport, and Danbury providing unique lending products and free homeownership counseling. With more than $120 million in funds under management, our programs include the pre-development, acquisition, rehabilitation, and construction of affordable housing, as well as down-payment and closing cost assistance loan programs for low- and moderate-income families. Our service area includes the entire state of Connecticut as well as the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland, Putnam, and Westchester counties in New York state, the five boroughs of New York City, and a recent expansion into Massachusetts. For more information, please visit hdfconnects.org.

About the Connecticut Green Bank

The Connecticut Green Bank was established by the Connecticut General Assembly on July 1, 2011 as a part of Public Act 11-80. As the nation’s first full-scale green bank, it is leading the clean energy finance movement by leveraging public and private funds to scale-up renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency projects across Connecticut. The Green Bank’s success in accelerating private investment in clean energy is helping Connecticut create jobs, increase economic prosperity, promote energy security and address climate change. In 2017, the Connecticut Green Bank received the Innovations in American Government Award from the Harvard Kennedy School Ash Center for Democratic Governance and innovation for their “Sparking the Green Bank Movement” entry. For more information about the Connecticut Green Bank, please visit www.ctgreenbank.com.

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Multifamily Pre-Development Loan & Permanent Financing Together

The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) and the Connecticut Green Bank are now working together to offer you a simple way to improve the energy efficiency, cost savings, comfort, safety and attractiveness of your multifamily property. This joint effort combines a Navigator Pre-Development Energy Loan with a HUD 223(f) loan or a Freddie Mac Small Business Loan (SBL) offering.

The unsecured Navigator loan funds customized analysis and design of energy improvements for multifamily properties using owner-selected and managed technical service providers.

Eligible Costs include:

  • Energy benchmarking, opportunity assessments, audits
  • Assessments of energy-related health and safety issues
  • Design, engineering and bidding of work
  • Costs to secure project financing for energy upgrades
  • Green charrettes and green physical needs assessments
  • Other reasonable energy-related expenses needed to design and fund your project
Read more about how a Navigator Loan with HUD/FHA or Freddie Mac financing works.

Ask your mortgage officer how we can help tailor a lending solution to fit your needs, and find out if we can underwrite to savings for sustainability improvements.

For more information about CPC, please contact Michael Staton or Timothy Deegan.

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St. Paul’s Flax Hill Cooperative Begins Renovation, Energy Upgrade Project

Study financing provided by Capital for Change, Housing Development Fund, and Connecticut Green Bank

 

October 31, 2017, Norwalk, CT – St. Paul’s Flax Hill Cooperative Inc., a property managed by The Simon Konover Company (TSKC), is pleased to announce the closing of financing for an energy upgrade study which will identify, analyze, and define the technical and economic feasibility of installing energy upgrades, as well as health and safety related improvements, to the property.

This energy upgrade study is financed through a $100,000 loan extended by Capital for Change (C4C) and $30,000 Pre-Development Energy Loan from the Housing Development Fund Inc. (HDF), in conjunction with the Connecticut Green Bank and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The Cooperative is also using $25,000 of its own reserves.

“St. Paul’s has been here for more than 40 years and the members have done a great job in keeping the community thriving and affordable,” said Rodolfo “Rudy” Carranza, who grew up at St. Paul’s and is now the cooperative’s Board President. “But we knew we needed help to make it through the next 40 years.” 

Carranza is also employed by the State of Connecticut as a Building Maintainer at Housatonic Community College. He has experience in HVAC and knowledge in construction. He knows the challenges his community faced to address their most critical needs.

“The members were concerned about rising utility bills and the capital repairs that needed to be addressed.  This was a big challenge for us and we were worried that the cost of the renovations would be too much for some of the members to afford,” said Carranza. “We knew we needed to tackle the problem with a team of professionals and come up with a plan to move forward. The financing provided by the Connecticut Green Bank and Capital for Change has helped us bring together the right team to create that plan and a way to finance the work so we can keep St. Paul’s affordable, not just for our families but for the generations to come.”

The property, located at 28 Martin Luther King Drive in Norwalk, is an 86-unit cooperative serving low and moderate income families. The anticipated renovations have a strong focus on energy improvements to both the common utilities and the energy performance of individual units. These renovations include: replacement of entry doors, sliders, and windows; replacement of roofing and vinyl siding; upgrading refrigerators, sinks, and toilets; installing new gas fired furnaces and water heaters, smoke detectors, and programmable thermostats. The firms to provide the professional services have not yet been selected.

After the study is completed, the co-op plans to refinance the project through the HUD 223(f) program with Century Health Capital, Inc. of Saratoga Springs, NY, as well as funding from the Department of Housing, project reserves, and energy rebates.

“We are pleased to help this project realize the benefits of energy improvements.” offered Cal Vinal, President & CEO of Capital For Change. “Leveraging the energy efficiency cost savings to help pay for the renovations is an efficient way to improve the property.”

“HDF is very excited to be partnering with Connecticut Green Bank and C4C in the pre-development financing of an important energy efficiency initiative for St. Paul’s Flax Hill Co-op in Norwalk,” said Elissa A. Bard, Director of Multifamily Lending at HDF. “This project will ultimately bring important energy efficiency upgrades and energy savings for this 86-unit affordable property.”

The Pre-Development Energy Loan Program from HDF and the Connecticut Green Bank was created to promote clean energy and energy-related health and safety improvements in multifamily affordable housing properties across the State of Connecticut. This program includes funding from the MacArthur Foundation designated to address critical obstacles to making multifamily energy efficiency improvements, allowing borrowers to cover the costs of energy audits, opportunity assessments, property condition reports and other work necessary to secure permanent project financing.

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Manchester Housing Authority begins $2.7 million energy efficiency and solar PV project

Project includes one of the first and largest ground mounted solar-PV systems at a state housing authority

 

Manchester, CT (June 26, 2017) – The Housing Authority of the Town of Manchester announces the completion of a 125 kW ground mount solar photovoltaic (PV) system that produces electricity from the sun at Westhill Garden apartments. This is part of a $2.7 million project that improves the energy efficiency and reduces utility costs for 275 units of the Housing Authority’s affordable senior housing portfolio.  

Manchester Housing Authority was established in 1958 and includes 455 total housing units across four sites.

This solar PV system is the largest ground mounted system serving a housing authority in the state of Connecticut, and among the first at a state housing authority. The electricity generated will serve 199 of the complex’s apartments, as well as the housing authority office. The system is expected to produce energy savings of approximately $25,000 per year and provide additional revenue to the Housing Authority under a long-term Zero Emission Renewable Energy Credit (ZREC) contract between the Housing Authority and Eversource, which should generate approximately $12,800 annually for 15 years.

Under an Energy Performance Contract (EPC) approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Building Technologies Division of Siemens Industry, Inc. installed a variety of energy conservation measures for this project, including heating systems upgrades; heat source conversions (from electric to gas); water-conservation measures (such as low flow showerheads and faucet aerators); and electrical upgrades such as LED lighting. The HUD EPC program provides incentives to public housing authorities across the country to implement energy and water savings improvements to their housing units. By leveraging energy performance contracting, this cost-effective solution pays for infrastructure upgrades with guaranteed energy savings over time.

The entire $2.7 million energy upgrade project was funded with private capital using bonds arranged by the boutique investment bank Crews & Associates, including $1.3 million from the Housing Development Fund (HDF), a Stamford-based Community Development Financial Institution. HDF’s funds for the project came from a program related investment funded by the MacArthur Foundation and secured by the Connecticut Green Bank. 

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Financing Clean Energy in Affordable Housing (webinar recording)

Over the past several years, Connecticut Green Bank has partnered with the affordable housing sector and private capital providers to provide critical education, financing, technical assistance and resources that address barriers to deployment of clean energy projects in affordable housing properties. In March 2017, Connecticut Green Bank strengthened its commitment to the state’s low-to-moderate income residents by welcoming Betsy Crum, a veteran professional in affordable housing development and finance, to its board of directors.

The Green Bank Network held a webinar on the approaches the Connecticut Green Bank is taking to increase financing for clean energy in affordable housing properties and how Crum’s appointment to the Board will push the bank even further in its efforts.

The presenters were:

  • Betsy Crum, Executive Director of the Women’s Institute for Housing and Economic Development and Member, Connecticut Green Bank Board of Directors
  • Kerry E. O’Neill, Vice President of Residential Programs at Connecticut Green Bank
  • Kim Stevenson, Associate Director, Multifamily Housing at Connecticut Green Bank

The recording of the webinar is below.

 

 

 

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GRID Alternatives Launches Multifamily Affordable Solar Program in Connecticut

Collaboration with Connecticut Green Bank will open up solar, reduce energy costs for hundreds of multifamily buildings serving low-income families.

Solar panels are installed by GRID Alternatives at Fair Street Apartments in Norwalk.

April 27, 2017GRID Alternatives, America’s largest nonprofit solar installer, today announced expansion of its multifamily affordable solar program into the Connecticut market. The program helps affordable housing owners and operators reduce energy costs with solar, providing no-cost technical assistance, as well as turnkey solar design and installation services.

The expansion was announced today at a live solar installation on the 57-unit Fair Street Apartments in Norwalk. The project, financed by the Connecticut Green Bank, is one of the first of its kind in the state, and will provide over $360,000 in lifetime energy cost savings for affordable housing provider New Neighborhoods Inc. It also includes energy efficiency education for residents and hands-on solar workforce training for local job trainees and community college students.

Fair Street Apartments is part of a portfolio that GRID evaluated under its technical assistance program, which is provided at no cost through a grant from The JPB Foundation. Nearly 300 multifamily affordable housing buildings in the Connecticut

Volunteers from the Connecticut Green Bank helped install solar panels at the Norwalk site earlier this week.

Housing Finance Authority’s State-Sponsored Housing Portfolio have been evaluated for their solar potential.

The Connecticut Green Bank, which aims to accelerate investment in clean energy deployment in the state, will review the properties deemed suitable for solar and provide interested properties with financing for installation by GRID Alternatives or another qualified solar installer. The offering will expand solar deployment on Connecticut’s multifamily affordable housing stock, lowering operating costs while helping the state meet its goal of 27 percent renewable energy by 2020.

“Solar can make a huge financial difference for affordable housing owners, saving them money that can be applied to building upkeep and tenant services, and directly reducing rents in some cases,” said Peter Mandelstam, Executive Director of GRID Alternatives Tri-State, which serves New York, New Jersey and now Connecticut. “We are excited to partner with Connecticut in opening up solar access for this market.”

“By reducing the energy burden on multifamily affordable properties, we are ensuring inclusive prosperity in Connecticut’s clean energy economy,” said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank. “This partnership with GRID Alternatives not only helps put solar on suitable buildings, but offers local job training putting people to work. It’s a win-win.”

GRID’s ongoing national expansion efforts are supported by a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation. The Fair Street installation is additionally sponsored by NRG Energy, Ardsley Partners, and GRID Alternatives’ national equipment partners: SunPower, Enphase Energy, Jinko Solar, IronRidge, and Schneider Electric.

Multifamily housing owners and developers interested in learning more about GRID’s no-cost technical assistance and solar offerings can visit www.gridalternatives.org/multifamily.

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