Meet Project Sunlight: A new model aimed at scaling multifamily solar

modern multifamily building

The International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST) was awarded $1 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to develop and coordinate a new approach that partners with local utilities, multifamily affordable housing property owners, investors and other stakeholders, to create a shared solar model that can aggregate multiple properties into one project.

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The proposed model will overcome the challenges of scaling solar PV technologies to multifamily affordable housing communities by improving volume efficiency of solar projects while reducing costs and risks. The goals of this project include; the creation of a cost-effective and sustainable financing model, the deployment of an aggregation database for multifamily affordable housing projects, the standardization of the financing process and contracts and the launch of a pilot program.

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“We are very excited to have been selected for this SETO program. Project SunLight will help demonstrate that affordable housing residents CAN access solar energy in a cost-effective manner that is scalable,” said Ravi Malhotra, ICAST’s founder and President.

Models for aggregating demand of small solar end users have been successfully executed. Similarly, the various models of solar financing have demonstrated small scale success. The innovation of Project SunLight lies in combining these approaches and catering them to the specific details of multifamily affordable housing, while appropriately assessing project risk and hurdles in order to scale the program. ICAST has a deep understanding of these market segments, including affordable housing, clean energy, and community development. The innovative nature of this proposal focuses on recruiting entire multifamily affordable housing properties, i.e. all the low-income tenants, under one contract. Through its expertise, ICAST can help multifamily affordable housing owners understand the benefits to their bottom line if low-income tenants receive low-cost solar.

Founded in 2002, ICAST is a social enterprise that provides economic, environmental, and social benefits to under-served communities in a manner that builds local capacity. Through its market-based solutions, ICAST promotes a triple bottom-line approach to community development.

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