Maryland Energy Administration awards grant to low-to-moderate income housing developer for residential solar microgrid

The Housing Initiative Partnership (HIP), a green, affordable nonprofit housing developer based in Prince George’s County, along with Pepco and Emera Technologies, has received a grant of $ 200,000 from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) to build a new residential microgrid to power a small subdivision of new Net Zero single-family homes in Fairmount Heights, Maryland.

The grant builds on efforts catalyzed by an expansion of the MEAs Resilient Maryland Program and will support a communal solar and battery energy storage system, as well as associated racking, mounting and wiring equipment, for six low to middle income households. This innovative pilot project, which received design and feasibility funding in 2020, will enable the new homeowners to generate their own energy independently of the public grid.

“Supporting the development of new and affordable clean energy homes for the first time low- to middle-income homebuyers is a sustainable model Maryland can build upon,” said Governor Larry Hogan.

This project was originally presented to the Maryland Energy Administration in 2020 by HIP’s architect, Peabody & Fine Architects. The resulting feasibility study that was conducted was part of MEA’s efforts to support microgrid and other distributed energy systems that provide clean, reliable, and flexible energy solutions to Maryland organizations and communities. This microgrid is integral to creating a community that makes affordable, sustainable, and resilient new construction homes more accessible to the low- to middle-income population of Maryland.

“HIP is focused on developing affordable housing that is both healthy and highly energy efficient in older neighborhoods in Prince George’s County. This will be our second project in Fairmount Heights, focusing on passive design and affordable home ownership, ”said Stephanie Prange-Proestel, deputy director of HIP, who acts as project manager for the development team.

HIP expects to be groundbreaking for Phase I of the development in the fall of 2021. Six single-family homes are being built on 60 Place in Fairmount Heights using modular construction designed to meet U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Ready Energy standards and Passive House Institute’s PHIUS + 2018 standard. These strict requirements ensure energy savings, comfort, health and sustainability. HIP will market the homes to first-time homebuyers who earn 80% or less of the area’s median income.

The collaboration of community partners is looking forward to providing power generation solutions such as rooftop solar to modernize grid technologies in neighborhoods such as Fairmount Heights, which will help meet the low carbon and state targets. province. BlockEnergy, Emera Technologies’ residential microgrid solution, allows homes to share the benefits of combined renewable generation. The community microgrid system also provides reliability and resilience for the neighborhood.

“The BlockEnergy microgrid is a utility-oriented system that can be easily adapted to new residential growth and allows utilities to manage distributed community energy with a single point of control. This partnership is a great model for what is possible as we work together to use new technology such as BlockEnergy to cost-effectively deliver clean, reliable energy sources to customers in communities across the country, ”said Rob Bennett, President and CEO of Emera Technologies.

Fairmount Heights, Maryland, the second oldest African-American majority congregation in Prince George’s County, is home to just under 2,000 residents and a model location for clean and resilient development. The city has set ambitious goals for 2021 to revitalize wasteland with projects that boost citizen engagement and attract growth, while minimizing its carbon footprint and promoting a green, sustainable future. The partnership with Pepco, HIP and Emera Technologies to complete this on-site microgrid project will also mark another step in Fairmount Heights’ efforts to achieve certification from Sustainable Maryland, a program for Maryland municipalities that want to go green, want money and want to take steps to maintain their quality of life in the long term.

Pepco and Emera Technologies will install the microgrid elements and support the distribution infrastructure, in addition to the construction of the homes. For the first three years after residents move into the new homes, Pepco will run a pilot with the other partners to collect data for specific metrics related to the system and potential benefits to the distribution system. Pepco will share additional details on the design, goals, proposed metrics, and timeline associated with the three-year pilot with the Maryland Public Service Commission, community members, and the public later this year.

Affordable access to renewable energy has taken center stage in communities across America, given growing threats from climate change, which can disproportionately affect our most vulnerable communities. The Fairmount Heights Net Zero community will provide replicable, scalable, and cost-effective solutions that will serve as a model for widespread adoption across Maryland. This pilot underlines the importance of public investment to positively promote the local energy network through jointly identified inclusive and equitable solutions.

News release from the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA)

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