A new portfolio of seven community solar projects in Illinois and New York will benefit low- to moderate-income (LMI) households. The projects will help approximately 5,000 households, along with area non-profits, businesses and a public school district, save as much as 20% on their monthly electricity costs.
Reactivate (an Invenergy company) has collaborated with Walmart and U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance (a U.S. Bank subsidiary) to close on a tax equity transaction for the project portfolio. Once the projects are placed in service, the beneficiaries will include a significant majority of LMI households. The remaining savings will be realized by public schools, a municipality, non-LMI households and various private organizations, including two affordable housing providers, a community recreation center, religious institutions and a housing association.
“This partnership with Walmart and U.S. Bank combines environmental stewardship with social responsibility, delivering tangible benefits to low-to-moderate income and energy transition communities while achieving clean energy goals,” said Chris King, EVP of finance at Reactivate.
For Walmart, this is a key example of how the retailer is ramping up its energy transformation strategy by investing in projects that focus on making access to clean energy affordable, reliable, and equitable – and in line with Walmart’s goal to bring at least 2 GW of community solar projects in service by the end of 2030.
“Serving our customers and communities is core to our purpose at Walmart and our support of this high-impact portfolio demonstrates our continued commitment to that purpose,” said Frank Palladino, VP of renewable energy strategy at Walmart. “These projects will assist in building a stronger and cleaner grid, expand access to clean energy for underserved communities and help people save money on their utility bills.”
The transaction supports a portfolio of seven community solar projects across Illinois and New York, boasting a combined capacity of 14.4 MWac. The six Illinois community solar projects are located in Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Monee, Granite City and Rockford and will serve qualifying customers of ComEd and Ameren. The New York solar project is located in Oswego County and will serve qualifying customers of National Grid.
“We remain committed to driving positive change and reshaping the landscape of renewable energy investment,” said Utopia Hill, CEO of Reactivate.
Community solar allows customers to realize the financial benefits of clean energy without owning a property or the upfront costs for solar. For renters, LMI households and many local businesses in states with community solar programs, community solar is one of the few zero-upfront-cost options for saving money on electricity bills. According to DOE’s Low-Income Energy Affordability Data Tool, the national average energy burden for low-income households is 8.6%, three times higher than for non-low-income households. In some areas, depending on location and income, energy burden can be as high as 30%. Of all U.S. households, 44%, or about 50 million, are defined as low-income.
“Projects like Reactivate’s are shining examples of how renewable energy developers can distribute the direct benefits of grid-decarbonization to historically underserved communities,” said Clark Conlisk, U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance VP, assistant director of project management and impact capital, who is part of the company’s Environmental Finance team. “For the LMI households subscribed to the project, the money that no longer must be spent to keep on the lights and A/C is a benefit to real people and empowers them to spend or save as they choose. U.S. Bank is fortunate to be able to support Reactivate’s vision for an inclusive and equitable clean energy economy while advancing our own clean energy and equity goals.”
Reactivate’s portfolio will serve approximately 5,000 households to benefit from the electricity cost savings delivered by these projects, approximately 90% of which will qualify as LMI. LMI customers in Illinois and New York will receive a minimum 20% reduction on their retail electricity costs, up to the amount of their subscription to project output. Total customer savings from the projects in this investment are projected to exceed $17 million over the lifespan of the projects.
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