By George Harvey
In this issue of Green Energy Times, we have stunning news in the article, “The World’s First LEED Platinum City,” which you can read on page 19. Perhaps more stunning than the news is the fact that the city in which it happened is a notorious hangout for powerful people who want to save the coal industry. Yes, the first LEED platinum city is none other than Washington, D.C.
In the course of researching that article, we came across a really exciting story. It is about Standard Solar, a company that finances and develops solar systems and has importantly added to the growth of solar power projects in the Washington area.
We can see clearly that what is going on in Washington at the local level is very different from what is happening at the federal. The federal government has its agenda, which is heavily influenced by those who put their money into national politics. But the local government in the District of Columbia thinks its own thoughts, which are clearly intended to address the environmental and economic issues it faces.
We may think of developing a solar system as a project for field technicians, but financing is necessary to enable that work. Financing is one of the biggest problems local governments face, because governments, as not-for-profit organizations, cannot get tax breaks. Of course, the same is true of many other organizations, including schools, churches, museums, and many others. These organizations need special attention from financial companies that specialize in solar development.
Standard Solar is one such specialist. The services it provides are available all over the country, but Washington, D.C. offers a special example of what it can accomplish.
This year Standard Solar had installed thirty new solar systems on the roofs of local government facilities, including public schools, fire stations, and police facilities in the District of Columbia. For this, it worked closely with the district’s Department of General Services (DGS).
Over the time these systems have been installed, they created about 140 good jobs for people of the Washington area. Tony Clifford, Standard Solar’s Chief Development Officer, highlighted the effect on the local economy, saying, “As a Washingtonian, I know how important these projects are for the District’s local economy, and we commend and celebrate the DC government for their dedication to becoming a green city.”
The rooftop systems installed by Standard Solar have been brought to a combined capacity of seven megawatts. Please notice, this is seven megawatts of rooftop solar. They will produce about 20% of the electricity used for the buildings on which they sit, which are generally large buildings using a lot of power. They reduce costs for the local government just as they reduce pollution, moving the district closer to the greenhouse gas goals it has adopted in its continuing support of the Paris Climate Accord.
Clifford is very aware of the fact that the progress done by the local government of Washington, D.C. may have a profound effect on communities elsewhere in the country. “Installing solar in urban-rooftop environments may seem challenging to some, but through careful planning and innovative installation approaches, those challenges are readily overcome,” he said. “The DC DGS project and others like it clearly demonstrate how transferable this type of success can be throughout cities in the United States.”
Across the country, Standard Solar has financed, developed, or maintained over 100 megawatts of solar systems. Standard Solar is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland but operates throughout the United States. The company website is www.standardsolar.com.