Condo flips switch on new solar array

By Ben Delman on January 28, 2016

Residents of the K at City Vista Condominium recently turned on the District’s largest residential solar installation. The 23 kW system is comprised of 100 solar panels. Completed in December, this project was the culmination of a two-year effort by the building’s condo board to make its building more sustainable.

“We thought about doing a green roof, or combination green roof and solar,” said Marge Maceda, condo president. “But as it turned out, the roof couldn’t sustain the weight for a green roof so we decided to increase the number of panels.”

The condo went solar as part of the Ward 6 Solar Co-op. Co-ops are typically populated by single-family homeowners. Adding the large condo building made the co-op more attractive to potential installers. Maceda said joining the group helped the condo get a 30% discount off the price off its system.

The condo board worked with DC SUN to explain the costs and benefits of going solar to building residents. After a few rounds of discussion, the board voted to approve the purchase of a system.

Because the condo association itself owns the system, the system is not eligible for the federal solar tax credit. It is not eligible because the condo association does not have a tax bill. However, the condo will be able to use the SRECs generated to help pay off the cost of the system. Maceda estimates the system will pay for itself in about five years. The system will be used to offset the building’s six-figure electric bills. This will lower condo fees for the building’s residents.

Solar systems such as this one are still fairly new in the District. This led to a lengthy back and forth between the building and D.C. government to get the system inspected and approved.

Maceda said the roof has enough space for another hundred panels. The condo would consider adding additional solar panels based upon the performance of the initial system.