When Mark decided to start a new business, WDC Solar, in 2009, Davis had three main goals in his business plan: to create jobs for District residents; to provide low- to no-cost energy for low- and middle-income DC residents; and to do something to improve the environment. With similar missions, over the past decade the DCSEU and WDC Solar have grown alongside one another to serve the District through solar.
In 2012, the DCSEU saw that access to solar was lacking in Wards 5, 7, and 8 when compared to the rest of the District, with fewer than a dozen systems installed in Wards 7 and 8. With modest goals of installing 15 to 20 systems for income-qualified families as part of a Small-Scale Solar pilot, WDC Solar was one of the first local contractors the DCSEU worked with to develop a pipeline of projects. The pilot ended up serving 87 homes with solar and helped formed the basis for how to provide low- to moderate-income DC residents with access to solar. This initial partnership helped the DCSEU establish itself, and helped Davis build his business in its early stages.
“The DCSEU has had a significant impact on my business, especially in its developmental stages,” said Davis. “And we have helped the DCSEU by being another connection to the community that they can depend on, to treat the customers we serve with dignity and respect no matter their income level.”
Since 2012, WDC Solar has grown immensely, expanding to have single-family as well as commercial solar installation crews and working on large community solar projects across the District. Davis’s company has worked on hundreds of solar installations as part of the DCSEU’s programs, including the DCSEU’s most recent work on the Solar for All program starting in FY 2019. Davis and his team have also served as hosts and mentors for externs from the DCSEU’s Workforce Development program, some of which are still working at WDC Solar.
“Some of the young men and women we have hired have been with us seven, eight, even nine years. I have seen some of them go from homeless, to getting their own apartment and purchasing a car,” Davis said.
Davis pointed out that having a supportive Mayor, Council, and leadership at DOEE have played an important role in his success and the success of solar in the District as well. When asked what he sees for solar in the District and for WDC Solar over the next decade, Davis said he looks forward to continuing to serve low- and middle-income residents, especially elderly residents, and hopes to see more income-qualified single-family residents get access to solar.
“I have gotten so many calls over the years from customers where we have been able to cut their electric bills in half, sometimes completely. For retired and elderly residents, that’s as valuable as putting a check in the bank. When I started this company, I wanted to make a difference in my community and I feel like I have been able to do that.”