Solar Power System Completed at San Diego Affordable Housing Property
- Jun 17, 2011
San Diego–Community HousingWorks (CHW) and HelioPower have completed a Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing (MASH) project at Las Serenas, an affordable housing property in San Diego. Going forward, the 108-unit complex will receive solar energy from the new system, which CHW and HelioPower estimate will offset nearly 20 percent of the residents’ annual electricity bills.
MASH is a California green-energy program, and to qualify properties must be occupied for at least two years and must meet certain low-income residential housing qualifications. The major goal of the program is to stimulate the adoption of solar power in the affordable housing sector and thus decrease electricity costs for tenants. CHW is a San Diego-based specialist in affordable housing development that has completed about 1,500 units in 20 years, and Murrieta, Calif.-based HelioPower specializes in solar installations.
MASH funds supported the installation of a 67.5-kilowatt DC solar photovoltaic facility at Las Serenas, with 100 percent of its production going to tenants using virtual net metering. The solar facility will offset about 1,000 kilowatt hours per unit annually. In addition, with the installation of a performance monitoring system for each inverter, CHW and HelioPower modified the system to offer free wireless Internet access to all residents.
Additional improvements will also take place at the property to lower utility bills and add sustainable features through a $475,000 federal grant from NeighborWorks America. Other green improvements to the apartments will include the installation of low-e, dual-paned windows; water-saving tub and kitchen fixtures; and related kitchen and bath repairs.
Through Helio University’s Solar Contractor curriculum, Las Serenas tenants will also have the opportunity to gain training and, in some cases, job placement in the solar energy industry. CHW also plans to hire a permanent part-time solar maintenance technician responsible for monitoring and maintaining their multiple solar PV facilities on a continual basis. Finally, to support its ongoing effort to implement a green curriculum, CHW will create a full-time position responsible for bringing energy education to residents throughout their housing developments.