Solar for Seniors

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April 26, 2017

Constellation Volunteers install solar with GRID

Constellation volunteers pose with their Constellation sign on a GRID installation
Constellation Volunteers install solar with GRID

An affordable senior living center just received 77 kW of solar on its roof, thanks to a partnership between Constellation, St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center (St. Ambrose), and GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. St. Ambrose provides affordable housing to underserved individuals and families, and is Baltimore’s oldest nonprofit housing agency.  The solar system will cover part of the costs of the common area expenses, and will save St. Ambrose approximately $15,000 a year. These cost savings are allowing St. Ambrose to make significant upgrades to the center, including new HVAC units for each apartment, new handicap accessible bathrooms, new exercise equipment for the gym, and other various common area upgrades and unit repairs. The solar will also help keep the housing affordable for the residents, who are all on a fixed, low-moderate income. “Preservation of affordable senior housing is imperative to do,” explains Gerard Joab, Executive Director of St. Ambrose. 

Aigburth Vale is an unusual senior center. Part of the center is a repurposed mansion, originally built in 1868. The 340 solar panels will be installed on the 1999 addition of Aigburth Vale. This way, the residents living in the historic mansion will be able to see the solar from their apartment. 

Two Constellation volunteers carry a solar panel
Two Constellation Volunteers on a GRID install
Nancy, a five-year resident of Aigburth Vale, is one of those lucky seniors. “It’s great to be a role model in our neighborhood,” says Nancy, “Anything that benefits Aigburth, benefits us.”

This is GRID Alternatives’ second multi-family solar installation in the Mid-Atlantic region, and its first in Baltimore. “We started with single family, but as solar grew, GRID started looking at other opportunities,” explains Nicole Steele, executive director of GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic, “GRID is excited to expand our services to tenants.” Congressman Sarbanes, the U.S. Representative for the third district of Maryland, is a Towson local. “This is a model for what can happen in so many places. This partnership should be showcased and replicated around the country,” says the Congressman. 

Two Constellation volunteers pose for the camera
Two Constellation volunteers pose
On the groundbreaking day of the install, Constellation volunteers joined GRID Alternatives staff for a corporate workday, where corporations donate their money and time to a GRID installation to make it possible. Constellation helped sponsor part of the system that will soon benefit 70 senior residents. “It is important for our staff to touch solar instead of being in the office with Excel sheets. Working with GRID Alternatives is important for us,” says Gary Fromer, Senior Vice President of Distributed Energy of Constellation. The volunteers were all from Constellation Distributed Energy, and work on solar and energy efficiency projects on a daily basis. But, this was many of the volunteers’ first time actually installing solar. “We are very happy to support this initiative. I write about solar a lot, but now it’s nice to see it. It’s nice to be a part of something local in the community as well,” says Lisa Nicholson, a proposal writer for Constellation Distributed Energy. 

“Building relationships between the private and public sector to get things done is what today is all about,” said Councilman David Marks, who represents the fifth District on Baltimore County Council. GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic was happy to celebrate the installation day with their partners and supporters, Constellation and St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center. Thanks to all! 

See more photos from our event here!