Deer Ridge Apartments in Wiscasset is the first affordable housing complex in the community to strive for net-zero energy status.
Owned by Coastal Enterprises Incorporated, Deer Ridge Apartments offers 27 housing units for seniors with low-incomes.
CEI’s goal for a high level of energy efficiency is made possible through the availability of tax incentives, appropriately-priced technology, and a special financial arrangement with The Power Company of Washington, allowing CEI to reap the benefits of doing a renewable energy project with no upfront costs.
On Oct. 21, Maine Energy Performance Systems completed the installation of three dual-axis photo-voltaic trackers on the apartment grounds.
In the terms of the agreement with The Power Company, CEI will pay a discounted price for the electricity produced for the first six years. After that period, CEI will have the option to purchase the equipment at a discounted price.
“This project typifies CEI’s triple bottom line investing principals,” said John Egan, director of Housing Development, CEI. “It’s good for the economy, it’s good for the planet, and it’s good for society.”
“John and I have been working to make the Deer Ridge Apartments a net-zero energy use facility for over two years and it’s nice to see another portion of the plan coming together,” said Rich Simon, of Maine Energy Performance Systems.
MEPS was commissioned by CEI to provide an energy audit, which identified measures to achieve the net-zero goal.
These include insulating and air sealing, replacing the existing electric baseboard with air-source heat-pumps, and installing PV trackers. The audit also provided financial models for potential savings and return on investment.
The purchase of the heat pumps was made possible by Efficiency Maine’s Low Income Multifamily Weatherization Program.
“Insulating and the heat pump installation are reducing energy use by half. The PV trackers will provide up to 30 percent of the facility’s energy needs,” said Simon.
Dual axis trackers follow the sun daily from east to west, and seasonally adjust to the sun’s arch in the sky.
The three trackers were manufactured by AllEarth Renewables of Vermont, and each consist of 24, 255-watt modules. The total production of the three trackers is anticipated to be 33,000 kilowatts per year. CEI and The Power Company are in discussions about implementing the next phase of the solar project to achieve the net-zero goal.
Founded in 1977, CEI is a Maine-based nonprofit community development corporation and community development finance institution whose mission is to help create economically and environmentally healthy communities in which all people, especially those with low incomes, can reach their full potential.
CEI provides financing and technical assistance to small, medium and micro enterprises, natural resource ventures in the farm, fish and forest sectors, community facilities such as health and child care, and affordable housing.
CEI serves communities throughout rural Maine, New England and New York, and is active nationally in partnership with other rural CDCs/CDFIs with its New Markets Tax Credit program. CEI’s development philosophy and theory of change is based on strategically combining the market interventions of finance, development services and policy for social and environmental benefit – the so-called “triple bottom line” – economy, equity and ecology – of return on investment.