For this real estate developer, going solar paid for five new roofs

on January 23, 2020

As owner of CedarHill Realty, Stan Voudrie is always looking for ways to improve the properties he owns in the Washington, D.C. area, while keeping rent affordable for his tenants. Recently, he came upon an opportunity that would help him do just that, while also helping the environment: community solar.

It’s providing a community and environmental benefit literally at no cost to the folks in the building. It's a win-win for us.”

Voudrie met with Darren Wyatt of New Columbia Solar (NCS), an Arcadia community solar partner working to increase clean energy in the District. During the meeting, Voudrie learned that the District has one of the most aggressive clean energy plans in the country. That plan includes community solar, which allows people to connect to nearby solar projects without installing panels on their own roofs. That’s huge for D.C.’s large number of renters and apartment-dwellers.

Voudrie’s ears really perked up when Wyatt explained to him that the rooftops of the apartment buildings he owns could serve as the home for community solar projects that generate clean energy for the community. And, as our partner, New Columbia Solar already knew of thousands of Arcadia members waiting to join, meaning the project could be built and generating power in no time.

After ensuring Voudrie’s buildings were feasible sites for solar, NCS was able to offer a competitive lease rate for five of his properties’ rooftops for community solar projects. These projects would then generate solar power and send it to the local grid. Voudrie’s buildings would get financial credits for hosting the projects and the D.C.-based Arcadia members signed onto the project would get solar savings on their utility bills. Anyone, including homeowners, renters, and people of all income levels and backgrounds would be able to see the savings benefits of solar without any of the fees or hassle usually involved in rooftop solar.

While he’s happy to make an impact on the environment with renewable energy, Voudrie says that the real impetus to go solar is the funding he receives for leasing the rooftops, which all house buildings filled with affordable units. With that money, he’s been able to replace the roofs on all of the buildings and invest in significant capital improvements to each of the properties without passing any of the costs on to the tenants.

“The reality is, in affordable housing, somebody’s got to pay for it. If an owner does a big capital investment into a property, the typical way you get paid back is you increase everybody’s rent. Because of the community solar projects, we were able to improve the quality of the buildings. And it’s providing a community and environmental benefit literally at no cost to the folks in the building.” says Voudrie. “It's a win-win for us.”

"All around, it feels good, it feels smart. It’s good business.”

“Customers like Stan are the embodiment of our mission to make it as easy as humanly possible for DC residents and businesses to benefit from solar energy,” said NCS Co-founder and CEO, Michael Healy. “As more community members express interest in solar, we will be able to develop new projects all over the city; revitalizing outdated energy systems, investing in capital improvements, and creating jobs in our community.”

When Voudrie reflects on his decision to lease his roofs, he’s happy about the outcome. His tenants can enjoy renovations at no cost, and, as a bonus, the solar energy is good for the environment. He believes that more business owners should consider becoming a part of a community solar project. “All around, it feels good, it feels smart,” he says. “It’s good business.”