Skip to main content
A New Wave of Community Solar in D.C.

By NHT Sustainable Development Manager, Kathleen Berube


Providing Equal Access to Renewable Energy

In the past, only a small group of American households have been able to benefit from solar energy. For those who live in urban areas, rent, or cannot afford their own solar panels, the benefits of solar energy have simply been out of reach. In D.C., and in many states around the country, community solar legislation allows everyone to benefit from clean renewable energy.

Traditionally, solar panels are installed directly on the building where the solar power will be used. Community solar works differently. Through the community solar model, the solar panels and the end user are in separate locations. This allows developers to install large solar arrays in the areas that receive the most sun and will produce the most energy. The energy produced by community solar arrays is sent directly into the electricity grid and managed by the local utility. The power is then virtually distributed to the community members who subscribed to the program. The power appears as a credit on the subscriber’s monthly utility bill.

NHT’s Solar for All Project

Last fall, the National Housing Trust and Urban Ingenuity, known as NHT Ingenuity Power (NHT-IP), launched “Solar for All,” a $6.6 million renewable energy project for the installation of 24 solar systems on affordable housing communities across Washington D.C., providing an estimated $4.1 million of lifetime power savings to properties and residents.

In 2019, NHT-IP has big plans for D.C.’s community solar landscape through the project. With over 2 megawatts of community solar in the works, NHT-IP anticipates subscribing more than 400 D.C. residents to the program. NHT-IP’s Community Solar project will place a major emphasis on providing benefits to low-income families in the District. On average, each low-income subscriber will receive 30% off their monthly energy bills.

Sign-ups for NHT-IP’s Community Solar program will open this spring. All D.C. residents with their name on their energy bill are eligible to sign-up and help low-income families in their city. Stay tuned for updates.