Moment in the Sun: Queensbridge Houses


When developing community solar business models that deliver meaningful benefits to subscribers and community members, having the right partners at the table can make all the difference. The sizable team that pioneered community solar at the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) Queensbridge Houses worked together to overcome multiple challenges and meet an important goal of ensuring equitable access to the benefits of community solar.

NYCHA’s mission is to provide safe, affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers and facilitate access to social and community services. As part of its 2021 Sustainability Agenda, NYCHA committed to host 30 MW of renewable energy by 2026. NYCHA planners designed its community solar program to provide benefits for residents, such as bill savings and workforce development, while generating revenue for the Authority. By leasing rooftop space for community solar to third-party developers, NYCHA staff believed they could meet all of their goals – and more.

One of the first NYCHA sites selected for community solar was Queensbridge Houses, a campus of 26 residential buildings and two community centers across two public housing developments–Queensbridge North and Queensbridge South–in Long Island City, Queens. Queensbridge Houses is home to 6,000 residents and is also located in the shadow of the Ravenswood Generating Facility, a gas-fired power plant and the city’s largest power generator.

NYCHA staff have deep experience in developing innovative partnerships. They partnered with Sol Purpose, a public benefit development company with a mission to further renewable energy development that serves the public interest, as the project developer. Sol Purpose supported NYCHA in gathering additional partners that all aligned on a mission to serve the public through clean energy, including:

  • Sunwealth, a public benefit company that develops market-based solutions to create a more inclusive solar economy, financed the project, provided project development support, and serves as the long-term owner-operators of the solar arrays;
  • Bright Power was engaged as the project’s engineer;
  • Venture Solar was the solar installer;
  • Green City Force, an AmeriCorps program that prepares young adults who reside in NYCHA properties for careers through green service, provided community engagement and workforce training;
  • Solar One, a green energy education center in New York City, worked with Green City Force to develop the training curriculum.
  • Arcadia and Solstice provided the project’s customer outreach and subscriber management tools.

Read the full article on the Department of Energy’s website.