Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28

FEATURE
Bugg is one of 64 vulnerable households living in the apartment complex
renovated by Jubilee Housing in 2017 as part of its justice housing initiative in response to the city's rising gentrification and diminishing supply
of affordable homes. During renovation, Jubilee Housing looked into
using solar energy to help Maycroft residents keep their utility costs
down, but the nonprofit wasn't sure how to turn the idea into a reality.
"That's where New Partners Community Solar came in," says Rebecca
Ely, Jubilee Housing's vice president for institutional advancement.
"They showed us how we could translate the savings to our residents."
Founded in 2016 by Nixon Peabody LLP partners Herb Stevens and Jeff
Lesk, New Partners finances, develops, and installs solar panels on commercial rooftops throughout the District of Columbia and distributes the
renewable energy credits to low-income residents and families, bringing
their electricity bills down. New Partners' mission is to make clean, renewable energy accessible to all, regardless of income, and today the nonprofit distributes $25,000 a year in $20 to $30 monthly utility billing credits
to 100 low-income families.
In 2017 New Partners collaborated with Jubilee Housing, installing a
70.2-kilowatt solar panel array on Maycroft's roof. This allows residents
to tap into a solar-energy transferable system that lowers their monthly
electricity bills.
"The savings that are coming from Jubilee Housing's solar panels as well
as solar panels throughout the city are going directly to our residents,"
says Ely. "So, 100 of our residents are saving approximately $40 to $60
a month on their Pepco bill. That extra money matters so much at the
end of the month, because it can go toward food, medical bills, and
whatever. It really goes a long way in improving their quality of life."
For Bugg, that's approximately $50 a month in savings. "I can use that
money for an additional two or three meals, or to pay another bill that
would be swept to the side because there weren't enough funds
available."

Courtesy of Nixon Peabody LLP

How
NEED this art requested.
Community
Solar
Works

2. Inverter

The i nverter converts
di rect current (DC)
el ectricity i nto
a l ternating current (AC)
s o i t ca n be used i n our
homes and businesses.

28 WASHINGTON LAWYER

3. Meter

The meter measures the
a mount of electricity
produced by the s olar
pa nels before the
el ectricity is fed into the
uti l ity gri d.

*

MARCH/APRIL 2020

4. Utility Company

The uti lity company
keeps tra ck of how much
el ectricity (how many
ki l owatt-hours) is fed
i nto the gri d generated
by the s olar panels.

SOLAR FOR ALL
When it comes to cleaner air and other forward-thinking environmental
initiatives such as renewable energy, low-income families are often left
in the dark. In 2013, however, the District of Columbia demonstrated
its commitment to expanding access to clean energy by passing the
Community Renewable Energy Amendment Act (CREA), allowing renters
and others to subscribe to an off-site renewable energy project and
receive a utility bill credit for their share of the energy produced.
New Partners was the first organization to take advantage of the new
law, installing interconnected solar arrays on three commercial rooftops,
then signing up low-income subscribers to receive this renewable
energy at no cost - thus completing the first community solar project
in Washington, D.C.
The idea for the nonprofit germinated in 2015 after Nixon Peabody
moved into its current location in Chinatown. Serving as the firm's office
managing partner at the time, Lesk knew that he wanted the firm to
occupy a certified Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)
building. Once Nixon Peabody secured a lease in a 10-story Brookfield
Properties building, Lesk negotiated a deal allowing the firm access to the
rooftop, which hadn't been used for any other purpose. He then thought
of installing solar panels on the roof, which would coincide with the firm's
other forward-thinking green designs.
Stevens, a retired partner at Nixon Peabody whose practice involved
renewable energy, had been following the District's unsubstantial efforts
since the passage of CREA. "Herb and I noticed that D.C. hadn't figured
out how it could work," says Lesk.
Perhaps one reason was that the city's landscape for solar energy is
so challenging. "It's very inefficient to put solar panels on commercial
rooftops downtown because it's expensive and difficult," Lesk says. "You
need to lift all that equipment up to the rooftop, then compete with
penthouses and rooftop terraces, both
of which cause shading. The city also
doesn't have many downtown parking
lots or big, open fields."

1. Solar Panels
Sunlight falls on solar
panels. The solar panels
convert the sun's energy
into direct current (DC)
electricity which is sent to
an inverter.

5. Utility Bill

The utility does not deliver the actual
el ectricity from the grid to i ndivi dual
cus tomers. Instead i t calculates the value of
thi s electricity a nd provides a cash credit on
the s pecified customer's monthly electric
bi l l. The customer may l ive nearby or a cross
the ci ty.

The two attorneys' social justice inclination also kicked in during this stage. "We
thought, wouldn't it be amazing if we
could do this in a way that distributed the
energy to low-income residents?" recalls
Lesk, whose practice focuses on affordable housing matters. "That's essentially
an extension of what we'd been doing
throughout our legal careers."
Around this time the city government
enacted Solar for All, a program administered by the District's Department
of Energy and Environment (DOEE) that
mandates the use of solar energy to
reduce the energy bills of 100,000
low-income D.C. residents by 50 percent
by 2032. And it included funding to
support both rooftop and community
solar projects.



Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar Of Events
Women of Impact feature
The Race to End Roe feature
Solar Power Access Feature
Taking the Stand
On Further Review
Global & Domestic Outlook
Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Worth Reading
Attorney Briefs
Disciplinary Summaries
Pro Bono Effect
Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 1
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 2
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Calendar Of Events
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 9
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Women of Impact feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 11
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 12
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 13
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 14
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 15
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 16
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 17
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 18
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 19
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - The Race to End Roe feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 21
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 22
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 23
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 24
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 25
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Solar Power Access Feature
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 27
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 28
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 29
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 30
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 31
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 32
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 33
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 34
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Taking the Stand
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - On Further Review
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 37
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Global & Domestic Outlook
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 39
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight – Joesphine Wang
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 41
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Member Spotlight - Fatemah Albader
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 44
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 47
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 49
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Portraits of Suffrage's Overlooked Heroes
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 51
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 52
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 53
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - 55
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - March/April 2020 - Cover4
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