- Team Lead
- Beth Ernat
- Team Lead LinkedIn Profile
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- Project / Program Description
A major barrier to developing solar energy for low and moderate income households and nonprofits is the inability of these groups to monetize existing tax benefits to bring down project costs and make them viable. Our team pairs tax equity investors (who can monetize tax incentives) with LMI households, non-profits, and government organizations (who cannot) in order to bring down the cost of solar power and make it more accessible. Our unique business model create high paying jobs for distressed communities in a way that is easily scaled up and highly replicable.
Our team has partnered with the city of Ypsilanti to pilot the program and includes as members the Director of Community and Economic Development, the Executive Director of the Ypsilanti Housing Commission, and the founder of Solar Ypsi. Here is how our model will work for Ypsilanti:
Local residents will receive preliminary training on fall safety and electrical safety. Then these workers receive practical training installing a 20 kW solar system, in cooperation with the Ypsilanti Housing Authority, on the New Parkridge Community Center where 100% of the 198 off-takers will be LMI households. Fully trained workers will then begin construction on a utility-scale solar installation, in cooperation with DTE, on the former Ypsilanti Landfill (a 1.3 MW project expected to create 10,000 man hours of prevailing wage work). Our team forms a for-profit solar investment group to own the systems which will allow the monetization of the tax benefits, which brings down the cost of the projects by as much as 64%.
Our commitment to the community does not end with the completion of these two projects. Afterward, we will look for additional solar investment opportunities in Ypsilanti and abroad. We believe the Ypsilanti model can be easily scaled and replicated in order to bring solar energy and solar jobs to distressed communities across the nation.
Using the Ypsilanti model, one training team (2 members), one installation team (8 residents), and one solar development partner could provide the installation labor for as much as 100 MW per year. This business model is directly scalable in Illinois, which has an ambitious Renewable Portfolio Standard directed toward LMI communities. Three teams working simultaneously could provide the installation labor needed to meet the Renewable Portfolio Standard of Illinois, which represents 5,000 MW of solar over the next 13 years.