An affordable housing apartment complex in Keene will soon be retrofitted with solar panels in a major step toward converting all of a local organization’s properties to renewable energy.
Keene Housing serves elderly and low-income residents, and manages several apartment complexes and housing units throughout the Monadnock Region.
Later this spring, ReVision Energy will install solar panels at the organization’s Harper Acres property, which encompasses 14 buildings on Castle Street and Ashuelot Street in Keene.
“Of all of our properties, Harper Acres is the largest consumer of electricity, so it was an obvious first choice,” Keene Housing Executive Director Joshua Meehan said.
Christina Zlotnick, employee-owner and outreach specialist at ReVision Energy, explained that only about nine of the buildings will have solar arrays installed on their roofs, but all 112 apartment units will benefit from the project.
The solar arrays will produce about 105,592 kilowatt hours of clean energy per year, which is equivalent to offsetting nearly 121,000 pounds of carbon pollution, according to a news release from ReVision Energy.
As part of its contract, ReVision Energy owns the solar arrays, and Keene Housing will purchase the electricity that the panels produce from ReVision at a cheaper rate than what the housing authority now pays for electricity.
In the sixth year of the agreement, Keene Housing has the option to buy the solar panels from ReVision Energy at a discount. Then the property would produce renewable energy at no monetary cost to the housing authority.
Keene Housing has two long-term goals: reduce overall energy and water consumption by 20 percent across the organization by 2025 and meet all energy needs with renewables by 2035.
Meehan said the organization has made efforts to make its properties more energy-efficient over the past few years by installing more LED lighting, reducing water usage and replacing old windows to seal out the elements outside.
“You get to a point where you’ve done as much energy-efficiency work and retrofitting as you can,” Meehan said, “and then the next place you turn your attention to is to producing energy.”
In addition to taking the first major step toward reaching Keene Housing’s renewable energy goal, Meehan said installing solar arrays and decreasing electricity costs means the organization can spend more money on its mission of creating affordable housing.
Zlotnick said she’s eager to see the contract with ReVision Energy help Keene Housing meet its aims. Called a power purchase agreement, she said this type of arrangement helps schools, municipalities and nonprofit organizations access solar energy with little to no upfront costs.
She pointed to Keene Housing as an example of positive change happening on a local level.
“They’re a nonprofit trying to make the world a better place,” Zlotnick said. “... All of this local action is really inspiring to us as a company.”