Portfolio Partner Profile
DC Sustainable Energy Utility
The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) helps DC residents and businesses use less energy and save money. Since 2011, the DCSEU has delivered financial incentives, technical assistance, and information to tens of thousands of District residents and businesses, helping them to save millions of dollars on their energy costs. Through its energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, the DCSEU has helped deliver more than $850 million in lifetime energy cost savings to DC residents, businesses, and institutions. With a particular focus on reducing the energy burden on DC’s most vulnerable residents, the DCSEU works closely with affordable housing owners and managers, as well as clinics and shelters, on energy-saving projects. Since 2012, the DCSEU has helped deliver more than $50 million in lifetime energy cost savings in affordable multifamily housing, clinics, and shelters. The DCSEU is also focused on created green job opportunities for DC residents, with a Workforce Development Program that seeks to help unemployed or underemployed DC residents uncover green career opportunities.
Featured Impact Story
Making solar accessible to all
LaToya Smith has been a DC Solar for All participant since April 2018. She installed her rooftop solar array through Solar United Neighbors and Solar for All, which seek to share the benefits of going solar with low-income households and are supported by DC Sustainable Energy Utility. Through her participation in the Solar for All Program, LaToya was able to affordably complete the installation process with ease and confidence. What follows is a testimonial from Smith regarding her experience. It has been lightly edited for style and clarity.
“Soon after I bought my first home this past year, I was researching online how to transfer utilities to my new address. I saw a section about free solar panels! I was immediately interested because I am all about doing my part to use clean energy. I am so glad I did, because I have learned so much! Going solar has changed my lifestyle and how I make choices about my energy consumption, both practically and financially. I am now a part of the solar economy: not only am I producing clean energy for my family and saving money, I am also producing for others in my city and have the ability to benefit financially as well.”
“I see a win-win with the Solar for All program. I recommend that everyone make the choice, especially when DC has audacious goals of operating on 100% renewable energy in just 12 years. If it wasn’t for Solar for All, I likely would have thought going solar was out of my reach. But since going solar, I have also purchased an electric vehicle. With solar panels, I can power my vehicle and feel great about my positive contribution to the solar economy and the issue of climate change. What’s even better is that my children understand this lifestyle and its benefits. They will likely live the same way. That’s exciting!”
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the DC Sustainable Energy Utility
Solar United Neighbors
Solar United Neighbors (SUN) has helped more than 500 DC homes go solar over the past decade. But the 51st State Solar Co-op is the first solar co-op aimed at expanding the benefits of going solar to qualified low- and moderate-income (LMI) households across the District of Columbia. Through the co-op, these families are eligible to receive grants that pay for their solar installation through the Solar for All program. By 2032, rooftop solar could reduce these households’ energy bills by 50%.
The 51st State Solar Co-op is funded by Solar for All, which in turn is funded by DC’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). SUN supports the installation of solar systems for households receiving grants through the program.
“I’m thrilled to own a rooftop solar system,” said Anna Butler, owner of the first low-income household to qualify for the program. “Without the Solar for All program, and help from Solar United Neighbors, I would have never been able to start generating my own solar power.”
Solar United Neighbors (SUN) has partnered with the DCSEU to deliver solar PV systems to additional income-qualified households. The DCSEU has developed a unique way to monetize the solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) on behalf of the income-qualified households that SUN is serving. Monetizing these SRECs provides additional funding that allows SUN to install more generating capacity and serve more District residents.
“The DCSEU is proud to partner with Solar United Neighbors and bring this new way of leveraging SRECs to the table to serve more income-qualified DC residents and help them save money on energy costs,” said Ted Trabue, Managing Director of the DCSEU.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of the DC Sustainable Energy Utility
DCSEU’s Workforce Development program
Joshua Brown, DCSEU Workforce Development Program Graduate
In 2016, Joshua, a resident of Anacostia, was driving for a rideshare company. He happened to mention that he had some background in HVAC repair while driving a DCSEU staff member, who provided her e-mail address and encouraged him to check out the DCSEU’s Workforce Development program. He sent along his resume and the next year was accepted into the program.
“When you’re looking to change your career path, sometimes that’s so hard to do, especially in the adult phase of your life," says Joshua. "The DCSEU’s Workforce Development program has meant a great deal to me in helping me make that change."
As part of the program, Joshua began and eventually completed Building Operator Certification classes, and also received weekly skills trainings at the DCSEU.
“Today, everything is electronic, including the job application process. For some people like me, because you don’t have this great resume, a conversation like I had in my rideshare may be all you have that can propel you into the next moment. This program has been a remarkable experience that I may not have received through any other avenue,” adds Joshua.
Today, Joshua is working as an HVAC technician at a local hospital.