There are a couple of approaches to taking your condo solar
Approach #1: Offsetting electricity in common spaces
The most common approach is to use solar photovoltaic (PV) systems to offset the electricity bills of the building’s common spaces (hallways, laundry room, etc). This allows your condo association to spend less money on monthly bills while also going solar.
Approach #2: Community solar project
The DC council recently passed legislation to allow for community solar projects on condos. With this approach, individual units can have a portion of the solar system’s production credited to their electricity bills. For example, you could install 50 kW of solar on a roof and divide up the system’s production among 10 different apartments. This approach only works if each apartment/unit pays their own electricity bill, though.
Although the law has been passed, we’re still waiting on the Public Service Commission to issue regulations for how the law will be implemented.
In the meantime, check out our community solar page. If you’re interested in getting help in developing a community solar project, sign up here and indicate that you live in a condo or apartment building. We’ll contact you once the regulations are out and help you get a project started.
Approach #3: Solar thermal project
If your building has a central water heating system you can install a solar thermal system. A solar thermal system helps heat your building’s hot water and is a good option if you don’t have enough space for a large solar photovoltaic (PV) system. Skyline Innovations is one company in DC that does solar thermal projects for condos and large buildings.
Paying for a solar system
You can either purchase the system outright or opt for a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), where a third party owns the system and you purchase the electricity the solar panels produce. More information on direct ownership vs. third-party ownership is available here.
There is also an exciting new funding mechanism known as DC PACE, or “Property Assessed Clean Energy”. This allows you to pay for your solar system over time on your property tax bills, saving you money from day 1! Urban Ingenuity is the program administrator through the DDOE. Check out their websites to learn how your building can benefit from this financing structure.