Ameresco and the New Bedford Housing Authority

AmerescoAt Ameresco, our work with public housing authorities (PHAs) via the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) energy conservation incentives significantly contributes to reducing the estimated $7 billion spent each year by HUD in public and assisted housing utility costs. Over our 21-year history, we have partnered with PHAs to develop innovative solutions, resulting in over $600 million in projects relying primarily on leveraged utility savings, and served 142,000 public housing units. Many of our PHA clients return for additional phases of work; one of our longest-standing PHA partnerships – over 20 years – is with the New Bedford MA Housing Authority (NBHA). From the earliest days of the HUD Energy Performance Contracting (EPC) program when we helped NBHA decentralize heat and hot water from central, oil-fired steam plants to building-based high-efficiency gas, our work with the Authority has been comprehensive and runs the gamut. In fact, we are now working to install 2.4 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar PV that will offset the electricity bills and be owned by the Authority.

This latest phase of work has been underway with NBHA since 2020 and involves a new $12.7 million EPC that includes rooftop solar equipment installations at 11 of NBHA’s 15 developments, as well as other more traditional measures, including boiler replacements, common area and exterior lighting upgrades to LEDs and water conservation. The solar equipment will produce 2.4MW of power, reducing NBHA’s electric consumption in the affected buildings by over 40 percent These savings will be verified ‹at the meter’ and reimbursed under the HUD’s ‘frozen rolling base’ EPC incentive. The project was completed in conjunction with the Commonwealth’s Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target, or “SMART” Program, which supports the development of solar technologies in Massachusetts through significant monetary incentives. As a part of the SMART Program, customers with solar installations are paid a flat rate by state utility companies for the electricity their PV panels generate, incentivizing those without solar technologies to opt for cost-effective renewable energy instead. Given the timing of project construction in 2020, our team had to navigate unforeseen hurdles due to the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, much of the solar work, constructed on rooftops, did not require our team to enter personal living spaces. For any interior work, such as the water conservation measures and boiler replacements, we worked closely with NBHA to ensure we complied with all necessary COVID-19 safety protocols.

Currently, the project is in the final stages of completion and awaiting final utility interconnect approval for the start-up of the power production, which is expected to be fully operational in 2022. NBHA now has one of the largest housing authority renewable energy installations in New England and plans to use additional utility cost savings to develop and install other sustainable upgrades in the future. NBHA will continue to seek new technologies to ensure both sustainability in its coastline location and the availability of the latest renewable technology for its developments.