A Bright Future for Richmond: Department of Energy visits Hacienda Heights Multifamily Rooftop Solar Project

GRID Bay Area is proud to be installing solar panels on Mercy Housing and Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond’s (CHDC) Hacienda Heights apartments. When completed, the 111.265 kW solar system will provide long term energy savings for the approximately 160 income qualified seniors (including 25 formerly houseless seniors) who will soon call Hacienda Heights home. 

In late March, Department of Energy Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Kelly Speakes-Backman and staffers from the DoE visited Hacienda Heights. “It was inspiring to meet folks involved with powering this clean energy transition in their local community,” said Speakes-Backman. “Everyone I met with had their personal stories as to why they came to work for GRID Alternatives, but it was especially exciting that all shared in the vision to make solar energy equitable and accessible for all Americans, including those in disadvantaged communities.” The visit was important for GRID and the community, in highlighting the opportunities for clean energy to benefit communities through clean energy workforce programs, and savings to future tenants.

Principal Deputy Secretary Speakes-Backman and crew meet with former trainees and partners on site while taking in the bay views and learning more about the project and GRID’s workforce development training programs.

The City of Richmond has experienced a long history of economic disinvestment and environmental injustice. The Hacienda Heights project is located in Richmond’s Iron Triangle neighborhood, an area physically defined by two major interstates, industrial rail lines and refineries directly adjacent to the neighborhood.  According to the 2021 US Census, over 63% of the city’s residents are people of color, and nearly 15% of its residents are living in poverty. The California Environmental Screening tool identifies the Iron Triangle as being in the 98% percentile for pollution from diesel particulate matter. From the roof of the building you can see several refineries that contribute to the pollution in the neighborhood, a stark reminder that there is a long way to go to remedy ongoing harms of fossil fuel infrastructure.

The Hacienda Heights project is an example of a bright and resilient future for Richmond residents. In 2015, the six-story affordable housing unit had closed due to lack of resources to support its ongoing maintenance and has sat vacant and in disrepair since then. Mercy Housing, a leading affordable housing nonprofit, raised funds to perform a $75M renovation in partnership with CHDC. After the project broke ground, GRID was able to secure funding through the the Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) incentive program, the nation’s largest investment in solar energy on multifamily affordable housing, to finance the rooftop solar and provide the majority of the funds needed to install the solar system. Residents will benefit from clean energy and lowered bills. 

This project is one of close to 90 affordable multifamily solar projects that GRID has worked on or completed. As the nation’s largest non-profit solar installer, GRID has eight offices across the country with experience developing solar projects that integrate workforce development in all aspects of what we do. Because of our local presence, GRID is uniquely positioned to meet the growing demand for solar on multifamily affordable housing, which is estimated to benefit hundreds of thousands of Californians. To date GRID Alternatives has installed over 75MW of clean, renewable energy in underserved communities since 2004. 


For more information on our multifamily affordable housing work, contact: 

Shamir Chauhan, Director of Multifamily Development