Denver Adds Solar to Affordable Housing

SustainableBusiness.com News (August 7, 2012)

By next April, Denver will add more than 2.5 megawatts (MWs) of solar power to 387 affordable housing buildings, cutting power costs and adding to the value of the real estate. 

The 668 systems are being installed through a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) signed by the Denver Housing Authority (DHA). The project, one of the city's largest, will include 10,471 240-watt panels made by SolarWorld. Completion is targeted for April 2013.

Under the PPA, the DHA will pay about $0.109 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), slightly less than what it has been paying to Xcel Energy, reports The Denver Business Journal. The contract price will rise 3.5% annually compared with typical increases of 5% from the utility, the Journal reports.

The solar integrator is Namaste Solar, while Oak Leaf Energy Partners handled the site planning, interconnection analysis, tax and financial structure, and negotiated the financing.

"This project was the most complicated and challenging of any of the 35 solar projects we have completed to date but also, perhaps, the most compelling and beneficial," says John Hereford, a partner with Oak Leaf.

Some of Oak Leaf's other projects include installations at the Denver International Airport and a Denver Public Schools contract involving 16 schools.

Enfinity America Corporation was the financing partner, and it owns and operates the panels. DHA will have the opportunity to purchase the systems at year 6, 10 or 15.

The project adds an estimated $10,000 to the value of each single-family residence in the developments, so buying the systems outright at some point would represent a sustainable investment by DHA.

Once the project is completed, the systems will generate approximately 3.4 kWhs annually in clean renewable energy.