Nautilus Solar Energy, Veolia Develop Solar Power for Public Housing Authorities


Nautilus Solar Energy and Veolia North America (VNA) are joining forces to support members of the Public Housing Association of Rhode Island (PHARI) in a project that will provide guaranteed energy savings to area housing authorities and bring electricity to thousands of low-income residents across the state from renewable solar projects.

The effort, one of the first in the nation to aggregate multiple public housing authorities under a single renewable energy contract, will entail the construction of three solar panel fields covering more than 55 acres in all. The panels will provide power to nine separate housing authorities in Rhode Island. The projects are in the early stages of development and expected to start construction in the first half of 2022.

Located primarily in the towns of Exeter and Smithfield, the fields will provide over 20 million kWh of electricity to housing authorities in Providence, North Providence, Newport, Cranston, Smithfield, Warwick, Warren, Bristol and Lincoln. The agreements will provide guaranteed savings against prevailing electricity supply rates, which will lower the operating budgets of the housing authorities in a region with some of the highest energy costs in the nation.

“We’re proud to bring our experience partnering with PHARI to support innovations that provide clean renewable energy for everyone in Rhode Island, and on a broader scale, the ecological transformation that needs to happen everywhere,” says Mike Byrnes, Veolia North America’s senior vice president and CEO of SourceOne, VNA’s energy consulting company. SourceOne has been an energy advisor to PHARI for over 10 years, providing energy procurement and risk management services to all of its member organizations.

The project is expected to lead to approximately $30 million in energy cost savings over the next 20 years.

“This partnership is significant as it epitomizes Nautilus’s pledge to provide equitable, affordable access to community solar for all Rhode Islanders,” comments Jim Rice, co-founder and co-CEO of Nautilus.

With Veolia North America advising PHARI, Nautilus was selected by the Board of Commissioners at each of the nine housing authorities to be the sole developer for community solar projects, from start to finish. Veolia North America through SourceOne supported PHARI throughout the process, providing expertise on the scope and technical solutions to optimize sustainability and cost efficiency.

“We were proud to work alongside Veolia North America and PHARI members on these important and ground-breaking projects,” adds Jason Su, structuring associate at Nautilus. “This was the first remote net-metering project in which a group of individual housing authorities worked together to leverage their buying power. As a result, hundreds of public housing residents will benefit from these clean affordable solar projects.”

As the long-term owner of the portfolio, Nautilus will be responsible for overseeing construction, ongoing management and maintaining long-term performance for the life of the projects, estimated at 25 to 30 years. The energy generated from the projects will be fed into the electric utility territory of The Narragansett Electric Company, a subsidiary of National Grid.

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