By K Kaufmann, RTO Insider
WASHINGTON — The “dragonscale” solar shingles that are powering Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) massive eco-friendly campus in California’s Silicon Valley will soon also be pumping out electrons from the much smaller rooftop of a multifamily building in D.C., while cutting electric bills in half for about a half-dozen low-income families in the city.
The 21-kW installation in a residential neighborhood is the newest community solar project in D.C.’s Solar for All program, which to date has halved electric bills for about 6,600 households across the city. It is also the city’s first solar shingle project, hailed by local officials and the project developers who turned out on a rainy Monday afternoon to cut a symbolic green ribbon in front of the building.
“This project represents not just another solar installation; it’s emblematic of where we see the future of the sustainable built environment going,” said Jessica Pitts, co-founder and principal at Flywheel Development, the D.C.-based developer that built the project. “It is the beginning of a transformation away from sustainable infrastructure being extra, being in addition to the materials of yesterday, and a move toward a future where sustainability is truly integrated into our surroundings, into our homes, into our buildings and becomes part of the fabric of our communities.”
For City Councilmember Janeese Lewis George, the project reflects the moral commitment local officials in the nation’s capital have made in the face of the “devastating climate crisis that threatens every facet of our lives.”
“We have a moral responsibility to revolutionize our energy,” Lewis George said. “We have a moral responsibility to break barriers by making green energy inclusive and accessible for everyone through programs like Solar for All, and we have a moral responsibility to collaborate across agencies, communities and the private sector to make it all happen.”
And for projects like the solar shingle roof, DC Green Bank, founded in 2018, helps fill funding gaps, said Brandi Colander, the bank’s board chair. “We take on the hard stuff; we take on the innovative stuff … that others were not quite sure they wanted to make a bet on,” Colander said at the ribbon cutting. “We are investing in helping people figure out how to navigate the system so they can make more pioneering investments like the one we have standing before us today.”
In the past three years, the bank has provided funding for a series of Flywheel projects, said Eli Hopson, the bank’s CEO. “It’s harder for smaller organizations like Flywheel to find [funding],” Hopson said. “They had done smaller projects, but they hadn’t done anything at [a larger] scale.”