Thursday, March 29, 2012

DC's Largest Private Solar Array Underway in Tenleytown

The largest privately owned solar array is now going up on top of a Tenleytown building owned by Paul Burman at 4435 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Burman hired Seven Seas Energy LLC to develop the project that will produce an estimated 50,000 kilowatt hours of solar energy each year.

Teris Pantazes, founder of Seven Seas Energy, said the project carries an up-front price tag of about $220,000. But tax credits and grants reduce it to less than $100,000, he said, with an annual energy cost savings of about $20,000. Work should be completed in April.

"What's unique about this job," Pantazes said, "is this is the largest system where an owner of a building has stepped up and said I like this so much I'm going to pay for this solar array myself."

Paul Burman, president of Burman Properties Inc., will have the largest private solar array in the city. There are, however, larger non-private solar arrays. For example, Pantazes said American University has one that was built under an agreement with a private investor who funded the project and sells energy to the school.

Pantazes said there are some unique challenges to building more than six stories at nearly the highest point in the city. In addition to getting permission from the zoning commission to build on top of the building's fifth floor along Wisconsin Avenue, high winds required a strong, steel structure.

The building, which stretches in an L shape from Albemarle Street to Wisconsin Avenue, houses a variety of tenants including Hot Yoga and Mattress Warehouse.

Burman said he wanted to switch to solar power in the interest of using alternative energy sources and as an investment in his property, his first attempt at using solar energy.

"I felt it would be a good thing to do at this time with all the problems the country has," Burman said. "I'm hoping this will be an example to other commercial building owners, and they'll come over and decide they're willing to try it, too."

Due to a source error, this article incorrectly identifies the solar array under construction above Wisconsin Avenue as the largest privately owned solar array in the city. Carol Chatham of William C. Smith & Company confirmed that the solar array on the company’s Sheridan Station building is privately owned and three times as large as the Tenleytown project. We apologize for the error.

Washington D.C. real estate development news


Anonymous said...

The largest privately owned array is in Congress Heights at the Sheridan Station project owned by William C Smith & Co.

Anonymous said...

I thought the DC government ran out of money for its solar energy tax credit thingy.

Anonymous said...

Just look at the height that adds! Did the ANC get to approve this as a variance? I'm outraged. This may generate extra electricity and be a laudable step towards energy conservation, but just think of all the poor homeowners in Tenleytown who now have to tell people they live in a metropolis...

Jay said...

I'm assuming the above commenter is using a little sarcasm. Or rather, I would assume that in any other neighborhood, but this is Tenleytown, after all. One day Sue Hemberger and friends will wake up and see they live in a city, but until then I'm sure there are those who would oppose this.

Anonymous said...

I think it's great to see that array going up in Tenleytown. (And if someone wanted to put one up in my neighborhood, I wouldn't complain!) But the math doesn't add up. 50,00kwhs a year does not equal $20,000 in energy cost savings a year, unless the building is paying $0.40/kwh for power, and that's more than 3 times the residential rate Pepco charges, all-in. 50K kwh is not nothing, but would cost about $8K. That's not a terrible investment at $100K, but it's not great at the full freight of $250,000.

Erin Bridges on Mar 30, 2012, 2:08:00 PM said...

Thank you for the comments, everyone. I would like to pass on some points of clarification from Mr. Pantazes.

In response to the first Anonymous comment, he said the Sheridan Station project is bigger, but it is owned by Solar City, not the developer.

In response to the third anonymous comment, he said a variance was not needed because no height was added to the building (it is about the same height as the penthouse and shorter than the elevator shaft). Even though a variance was not needed, he said they did get letters of approval from neighbors.

I hope this helps answer some questions.

Bob Summersgill on Mar 30, 2012, 3:28:00 PM said...

Because there was no variance needed, the construction did not go to ANC 3F for approval. I think ANC 3F would have probably approved it. I think it is great. Can I get a tour?

-Bob Summersgill
Commissioner ANC 3F07

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous: I don't know what the rate would be, but you can be pretty sure that a commercial property does get charged in excess of the residential rate -- peak hour usage and all that. It would surely be a boon to the hot yoga studio. Those places suck a lot of energy.

Anonymous said...

About the $20,000 in energy cost savings: I suspect they're counting the value of the energy (say 0.12 * 50,000 = $6,000) and the value of the 50 SRECs (solar renewable energy credits) that the system would also produce yearly. At an SREC price of $280, that gets you to $20,000 per year, and $280 is ballpark for the market right now.

Seven Seas Energy on Apr 2, 2012, 9:36:00 AM said...

Great comments everyone. My name is Teris Pantazes and I worked on this project. In response to some of the previous comments; we did get letters of approval from neighbors and have found and overwhelming support for the system.

Although the array is tall, it does not exceed the height of the elevator shaft and other equipment on the roof therefore we did not increase the height of the building.

We will probably host a "power up"/ tour this summer and I will be sure to keep DCmud posted on those details.

I appreciate your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Let's not call this "privately owned" when taxpayers are subsidizing it with a grant, and will eventually pay for the additional tax cuts with an inevitable 10 cents bag tax.

So I paid for it, but the owners of the building on which it sits take all the profits? Well that's wonderful.

Clean Air said...

@Anonumous 2:20 PM:

If greater use of rooftop solar panels helps to improve air quality, decrease respiratory disease and other healthcare costs associated with pollution, and reduces global warming, then yes, it is wonderful. As a DC tax-payer, I'm glad my tax money is going to such projects.

Improving energy efficiency of buildings and investing in renewable energy is also creating much-needed jobs. I'd rather see my tax money go to this instead of the $4B-$5B in annual subsidies to oil companies

Seven Seas Energy on Apr 3, 2012, 9:38:00 AM said...

re: Taxes.

@commenter on 4/2 3:51.

You touched on an argument that I've been trying to state whenever I can.

Oil and coal companies get tax credits, breaks, etc.. Why is the solar industry under scrutiny for many of those same programs?

In fact, I believe the solar grants to be more fair as they allow individuals and small business owners to take tax credits that are normally reserved for larger corporations.

To me it is the only fair- it's energy and I should be allowed the same credits as Pepco if I want to produce my own electric. No?

Anonymous said...

I like Sue. Why are you picking on her :) Poop on you!

Seven Seas Energy on Apr 9, 2012, 1:35:00 PM said...

Update: I've had a few people write and ask me about the actual construction. My construction partner is Prospect Solar based in Sterling, VA, Baltimore Steel performed the steel work. ALSO OF NOTE- the panels are made in the USA

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