Case study: Memphis subdivision goes solar

Published October 22, 2017

Solar Subdivision in Memphis, TN
2kW on home in Wolf River Bluffs

LightWave Solar is proud to work for United Housing, Inc., a Memphis nonprofit dedicated to helping people with homeownership. Founded in 1994, United Housing’s efforts include down payment assistance, homebuyer education, home repair loans for low income homeowners, and the renovation and sales of single family homes. One of their projects is the new Wolf River Bluffs subdivision, a mixed income community of 34 homes in the Memphis neighborhood of Frayser. So far 17 homes have been built, and 11 of these have, or will soon have, solar panels on the roof.

Each solar system is 2 kilowatts, consisting of 8 solar panels that will generate about $300 per year as participants in TVA’s Green Power Providers program. As electric rates increase over the next 20 years, so will the solar revenue.

“We are trying to make these houses affordable for people who might be low to moderate income,” says United Housing Administrator Anne Meadors. “The solar panels further reduce the cost of living in them,” she says.

One of 11 homes that has, or will have, solar panels.

In addition to generating solar electricity, the approx. 1,500 sq. ft. homes are built to MLGW’s EcoBuild specifications, which include requirements for insulation, windows, ducts, caulking and more, and allow the homes to be about 30% more energy efficient than typical residential construction in Shelby County. The average sale price for the homes is $135,000.

Funding for the solar projects came from grants through the Plough Foundation and the Assisi Foundation, Memphis organizations that help support the work of local nonprofits. United Housing started construction on the subdivision in 2013, and LightWave has been working on the projects since 2014.

“We chose to work with LightWave Solar because of their expertise and because they handle all of the required paperwork,” says Meadors. “It’s a big help when all we have to do is review the applications and sign,” she says.

United Housing, and in some cases, new homeowners, will flip the switch on 7 solar systems this fall and winter – just in time to help offset higher heating costs. Over the last three years, United Housing has seen the benefits of the solar systems for homeowners and plans to put solar on even more homes in the near future.