Rhode Island public housing teams up with Nautilus Solar and VNA to get off-site solar

Rhode Island — Nautilus Solar and Veolia North America (VNA) are joining forces to support members of the Public Housing Association of Rhode Island (PHARI) in a project which will provide guaranteed energy savings to area Housing Authorities and bring electricity to thousands of low-income residents across the state from solar.

The effort, the first in the nation to aggregate multiple public housing authorities under a single renewable energy contract, will entail the construction of three solar panel fields covering more than 55 acres in all. The panels will provide power to nine separate housing authorities in Rhode Island.

Located primarily in the towns of Exeter and Smithfield, the fields will provide over 20 million kilowatt-hours of electricity to housing authorities in Providence, North Providence, Newport, Cranston, Smithfield, Warwick, Warren, Bristol and Lincoln. The agreements will provide guaranteed savings against prevailing electricity supply rates, which will lower the operating budgets of the housing authorities in a region with some of the highest energy costs in the nation.

The project is expected to lead to approximately $30 million in energy cost savings over the next 20 years.

“We’re proud to bring our experience partnering with PHARI to support innovations that provide clean renewable energy for everyone in Rhode Island, and on a broader scale, the ecological transformation that needs to happen everywhere,” said Mike Byrnes, Veolia North America senior vice president and chief executive officer of SourceOne, VNA’s energy consulting company. SourceOne has been an energy advisor to PHARI for over 10 years, providing energy procurement and risk management services to all of its member organizations.

“This partnership is significant as it epitomizes Nautilus’s pledge to provide equitable, affordable access to community solar for all Rhode Islanders,” said Jim Rice, co-Founder and co-CEO of Nautilus. “We were proud to work alongside Veolia North America and PHARI members on these important and ground-breaking projects,” added Jason Su, structuring associate at Nautilus. “This was the first remote net-metering project in which a group of individual housing authorities worked together to leverage their buying power. As a result, hundreds of public housing residents will benefit from these clean affordable solar projects.”

With Veolia North America advising PHARI, Nautilus was selected by the Board of Commissioners at each of the nine housing authorities to be the sole developer for community solar projects, from start to finish. Veolia North America through SourceOne supported PHARI throughout the process, providing expertise on the scope and technical solutions to optimize sustainability and cost-efficiency.

“Every housing authority in Rhode Island is working to provide the highest quality affordable housing possible with limited budgets,” observed Robert Coupe, PHARI co-president and executive director of the Cranston Housing Authority. “Our partnership with Veolia North America/SourceOne and Nautilus will dramatically reduce utility costs for many years to come, freeing valuable resources to invest in property maintenance, facility improvements and operational support. By supporting the growth of renewable energy projects, we will improve the quality of life for future generations while enhancing our ability to serve current residents,” concluded Coupe.

As the long-term owner of the portfolio, Nautilus will be responsible for overseeing construction, ongoing management and maintaining long-term performance for the life of the projects, estimated at 25 to 30 years. The energy generated from the projects will be fed into the electric utility territory of The Narragansett Electric Company (NEC), a subsidiary of National Grid. The projects are in the early stages of development and expected to start construction in the first half of 2022.


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