Denver Mayor Michael Hancock recently joined the Denver Housing Authority in launching a landmark public-private partnership to bring renewable energy to 387 affordable housing buildings throughout the city.

Courtesy of DHA
Denver Mayor Hancock helps launch the DHA solar partnership at affordable housing buildings throughout the city.

The ambitious Solar Power Purchase Agreement spearheaded by DHA and several renewable energy leaders—including Oak Leaf Energy Partners, Enfinity America Corp. and Namasté Solar—makes DHA one of the first housing authorities in the country to implement such a complex, large-scale residential solar-electric project.

“The Denver Housing Authority continues to serve as an aggressive leader in revitalizing Denver’s inner-city communities. Developing smart, sustainable residential sites clearly makes them an outstanding example of the stewardship that makes us a leader in energy-conscious cities,” Hancock said.

The announcement of the 2.513-MW solar project was made at DHA’s Quigg Newton Homes, the location of the first of the 668 individual solar installations. For the engineering and installation of the solar electric systems, DHA turned to Namasté Solar, a Colorado solar integrator. Once all of the photovoltaic arrays are installed by April 2013, the systems will collectively generate an average of 3.4-million kW hours of electricity per year, an annual reduction of 3,479 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of planting 267,624 trees.

“At DHA, we are constantly looking for better and smarter ways to run our business and carry out our mission. Entering into a power purchase agreement with our partners at Oak Leaf and Enfinity makes good business sense,” adds Ismael Guerrero, DHA’s executive director. Through this innovative financing structure, DHA will be able to purchase long-term power, from renewable-energy sources located on our housing units, with no upfront capital investment on our part. This is good for DHA, good for the environment and good for the communities we serve.”

Oak Leaf Energy Partners served as the project’s developer, providing site planning, interconnection analysis, tax and financial structuring and negotiating 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,” said Oak Leaf’s John Hereford. “DHA is unique for a public agency in that they have a real appetite for innovation and are not afraid to try new concepts to advance their mission.”

Enfinity America Corp., the project’s financier, owns and operates the photovoltaic arrays, selling the electricity it generates from the solar electric systems to DHA. Under the contract, DHA can purchase any system at year 6, 10 or 15. Each solar electric system adds approximately $10,000 in value to a single-family residence, so a sale any time after three years demonstrates a smart, sustainable investment by DHA.

“Enfinity is very pleased to have worked with all of its partners on this effort to bring a viable financing and asset ownership solution to this important project with the Denver Housing Authority. To bring solar energy to over 650 affordable homes adds a very exciting project to our traditionally more commercially focused portfolio. It took great commitment and coordination by everyone involved to move this project forward,” said Rafael Dobrzynski of Enfinity America Corp.

Namasté Solar is implementing the engineering, design and installation of this large, complex solar project.
“Each partner brought a level of commitment, experience and creativity to the process that was critical in enabling this project to become a reality. With more than 40 new hires for this project alone, Namasté Solar now has over 100 employees dedicated to propagating the use of solar electricity in Colorado and beyond,” added Blake Jones, president & CEO of Namasté Solar.