Washington, DC – Yesterday morning the District’s largest solar canopy was unveiled on the grounds of the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus (RIC), located on the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center campus. Several representatives from District government and the business community participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the installation, which is part of the District’s Solar for All program. The canopy will provide more than 325 income-qualified households with clean, renewable energy and electricity bill savings over the next 15 years.
At the event, District of Columbia Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells announced New Columbia Solar and Children’s National Hospital are 2021 District Sustainability Award co-recipients for the execution of this project, which will be recognized alongside other award recipients on April 28.
“I am pleased to celebrate this innovative, award-winning project, accomplished with our partners for the benefit of our residents and community,” said Wells. “The completion of this project by New Columbia Solar is a tremendous achievement that will not only help to meet Mayor Bowser’s climate and clean energy goals for the District, but will also help to reduce energy costs for low-income households. The District is proud to be a national leader in sustainability, and this project further demonstrates our commitment to deploying solar and developing scalable solutions in a way that prioritizes equitable access for all.”
The clean energy generated by this solar array, which is on the RIC parking garage, will be distributed through the Solar for All program, Mayor Muriel Bowser's initiative to provide 100,000 low-to-moderate income families with the benefits of locally generated clean energy. This installation will serve more than 325 income-qualified DC families, saving each household up to $500 annually, and saving these families up to $2.4 million over 15 years.
Joining to celebrate the project and the partnerships that made the project possible were Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3); DOEE Director Tommy Wells; Children’s National Hospital Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President for Patient Care Services Kathy Gorman; Commissioner Emile Thompson, District of Columbia Public Service Commission; DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) Director Ted Trabue; and New Columbia Solar CEO Mike Healy.
"This project is the perfect example of why operating a solar company in the District is so rewarding,” said New Columbia Solar (NCS) CEO Mike Healy. “I look at this project and see major decision-makers in DC coming together, in the middle of a global pandemic, to prioritize powering our city through clean energy and to offset utility expenses for the families in our community who are most in need.”
The installation began when Children’s National acquired a large five-story above-grade parking garage, which provided the perfect location for a cutting-edge solar array. The original goal for the parking garage was always to incorporate a solar array however, the installation of the 1,148 kW system was an engineering feat, representing one of the District’s most complex solar systems. For example, the load-bearing capacity of the concrete deck was less than the weight of the Spydercrane needed to lift and install the steel canopy frame. NCS’s engineering team had to devise creative solutions, such as using large steel “railroad ties” to disperse the load of the Spydercrane across a larger surface area.
The installation process was well worth the struggle–in addition to the environmental benefits of solar energy, the array supports District families through Solar for All.
“When we began to plan the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus, we wanted to do more than discover new and better ways to care for children. We also wanted to support the local community,” said President and CEO of Children’s National Kurt Newman, MD. “I'm proud that we could incorporate the solar design into our campus thereby returning clean energy to the residents of Ward 4 and doing our part to support the environment."
Over the past two years operating DOEE’s Solar for All program, the DCSEU has worked with local solar developers to install 130 community solar facilities across the District. These installations are expected to serve more than 4,000 income-qualified DC families, with more community solar projects slated to be developed in 2021 to serve an additional 2,000 households.
“It’s an honor to deliver the Solar for All program in partnership with District government and the DC business community,” said DCSEU Director Ted Trabue. “These projects bring opportunities to District businesses, jobs to DC residents, and critical electricity bill savings to families who need it, all while helping work towards a carbon-free DC.”
About Children’s National Hospital
Children’s National Hospital, based in Washington, D.C., celebrates 150 years of pediatric care, research and commitment to community. Volunteers opened the hospital in 1870 with 12 beds for children displaced after the Civil War. Today, 150 years stronger, it is among the nation’s top 10 children’s hospitals. It is ranked No. 1 for newborn care for the fourth straight year and ranked in all specialties evaluated by U.S. News & World Report. In 2021, the Children’s National Research & Innovation Campus opened, the first in the nation dedicated to pediatric research. Children’s National is recognized for its expertise and innovation in pediatric care and as a strong voice for children through advocacy at the local, regional and national levels. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
About the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU)
The District of Columbia Sustainable Energy Utility (DCSEU) helps DC residents and businesses use less energy and save money. Since 2011, as a contractor to DOEE, the DCSEU has delivered financial incentives, technical assistance, and information to tens of thousands of District residents and businesses, helping them save more than $1.2 billion in lifetime energy costs. Its work is building a brighter economic, environmental, and energy future for the District. The DCSEU currently operates the Solar for All program under contract to DOEE. For more information, visit dcseu.com.
About New Columbia Solar
New Columbia Solar develops, finances, owns, and operates rooftop, canopy, and ground-mounted solar projects located on commercial, industrial, multi-family, non-profit, and faith-based properties across the District of Columbia and Maryland. Founded in 2016, the company has grown to be the largest and most comprehensive solar energy company in the District of Columbia with a mission to power every home and business in the District with solar energy. We are proud to use solar energy to provide increased cash flow and financial flexibility to more than 100 schools, nonprofits and residential building owners across the District.