Portfolio Partner Profile
Sunwealth is a clean energy investment firm working to create a more resilient, secure, and equitable energy future by financing and managing a diverse array of community-based solar projects in communities across the United States. Community-based solar has the potential to create real impact on climate and local resiliency. The rooftops, lots and unused spaces within our built environment represent a $1 trillion market opportunity capable of generating 25% of the nation’s power.
Sunwealth partners with skilled local installers, community organizations, local businesses, and investors to change who benefits from clean energy by changing the way we invest in it. As a public benefit corporation and B Corp, our projects aim to deliver meaningful benefits to communities in the form of energy savings, carbon reductions, and economic opportunities so that everyone can benefit from the clean energy transition. We work to finance and develop solar projects ranging in size from 5 kW to 2 MW across numerous building types, including houses of worship, schools, nonprofits, small businesses, commercial office buildings, and municipal buildings.
Our Solar Impact Fund brings together a portfolio of high-performing community-based solar projects into diverse investment pools that provide clean energy and savings to credit-worthy power purchasers while delivering strong, stable returns to our investors. Through December 2022, the fund had invested over $135 million in over 575 community-based solar projects to develop over 37 MW of clean power. The portfolio will generate over $81 million in lifetime energy savings for our power purchasers (close to $.60 for every dollar invested), $108 million in revenue for local solar developers and installers, close to 1,300 lifetime person job years, and will reduce lifetime carbon emissions by more than 895,000 metric tons.
Featured Impact Story
Empowering Indigenous Communities
Indigenous communities often shoulder a disproportionate burden when it comes to the impacts of climate change and are also one of the first groups to feel the effects of a changing climate. While they only make up a small percentage of the US population and a comparatively small contribution of total planet-warming emissions, Indigenous communities have long been at the forefront of the clean energy transition and efforts to implement climate solutions.
For the Lumbee Regional Development Association (LRDA) – a private nonprofit in Pembroke, North Carolina, founded by tribal leaders seeking to bring much-needed social, educational, and economic services to Lumbee members – going solar will deliver meaningful cost savings that will be reinvested into their community in the form of education and workforce development programs. In partnership with Eagle Solar and Light, Sunwealth developed solar on top of LRDA’s roof, which is the first solar installation on a building associated with a state recognized tribe in North Carolina. This installation will reduce 1,826 tons of carbon over its lifetime, save $51,000 in lifetime energy, and generate 76 kW of clean power.
New York City Housing Authority
In partnership with the New York Housing Authority (NYCHA), Sunwealth financed and developed over 67 rooftop solar projects across NYCHA’s Queensbridge, Carver, Kingsborough, and Glenwood buildings. The projects total 3 megawatts (MW) of solar and are part of NYCHA’s goal to install 30 MW on their properties by 2026. The portfolio will deliver over $7 million in lifetime energy savings for NYCHA residents and low-income subscribers in the surrounding New York City boroughs.
In addition to delivering savings to NYCHA and low-income subscribers, the projects also included a solar workforce development program that provided full-time employment to over a dozen NYCHA residents. After the 6 to 12-month apprenticeship, close to 40% of participants accepted full-time job offers.
Rebuilding Broken PLaces CDC
The Rev. Dr. William Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church and co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, created Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corporation to minister the economic, educational, and social needs of economically distressed urban and rural communities in Wayne County, North Carolina. The nonprofit organization provides early childhood education, affordable housing opportunities, parent support groups, financial literacy classes, care for the elderly, healthy food access, and workforce development opportunities. Overall, it provides an opportunity for the members of the congregation to practice what they preach.
Sunwealth partnered with Eagle Solar and Light on two solar installations – one for the chapel and one on Rebuilding Broken Places’ community kitchen. The community kitchen is a social enterprise that provides cooking classes, health and nutrition training, and workforce development. The installations will generate 114 kW of clean power, reduce lifetime carbon emissions by 3,000 tons, and provide $51,000 in energy savings over its lifetime.
A Feeling of Pride
To the passerby, the Whole Foods Market in Sudbury, MA looks like a typical suburban grocery store. But to electrical apprentice Raul Urzua, looking at this particular grocery store elicits a feeling of pride. Not because of what’s inside the store, but because of what’s on top of it.
Urzua is an installation partner on the CTEC Solar/127 Energy crew working to install Sunwealth’s 220-kW solar system on the roof of the Whole Foods Market. He’s a former chef and brings the attention to detail he learned in the kitchen to his work in solar.
“When a project is finished and the solar panels all line up, it’s beautiful and something to be proud of,” said Urzua. “It’s nice to know that I was part of a project that will be there for a long time.”
Urzua is right: the solar panels he’s installing have a lifetime of thirty years. Urzua, however, will move on to the next solar installation site, where he is just one of many people taking advantage of the solar boom by joining the fastest growing occupation in America.
Developing Clean Energy for All
Partnering with organizations that have strong roots in their community allow us to maximize the impact of our projects and expand the benefits of solar power. When Fifth Avenue Committee (FAC) in Brooklyn, New York came to Sunwealth looking to install solar across six of their buildings, a values-aligned partnership was born. FAC is a nonprofit community development organization that provides affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. They’re focused on creating stable, thriving, and sustainable communities that drive economic and social justice through programs like workforce development, advocacy, community services, and education.
Sunwealth partnered with 770 Electric and Solar Energy Systems to build 106 kW of rooftop solar across six of FAC’s buildings. The projects will support three lifetime solar job years and deliver clean energy and $150,000 in lifetime energy savings to the organization so that they can continue to provide much-needed services to their community for years to come.
Focusing on Flexibility
Partnering with local developers and installers means the dollars we invest in solar help strengthen regional economies. It also means local boots on the ground to support project success from conception through a productive life of 30 years or more. Our financing helps developers grow their companies, while making solar accessible to municipalities, nonprofits, businesses and individuals unable to monetize solar tax credits and/or obtain other financing for their projects.
SunCommon’s mission is to tear down barriers to clean energy and use their business as a force for good. When the Vermont-based Benefit Corporation (and certified B Corporation) needed a financing partner for two projects on the rooftops of municipal buildings owned by the Town of Killington, Sunwealth was a natural choice. The two projects, totaling 247 kW of clean energy, will deliver $165,000 in lifetime energy savings, reduce 4,600 metric tons of carbon emissions, and create nearly nine lifetime solar job years.
Thinking Beyond Green
Installing solar provides an opportunity to make a building greener, but it is also a chance to give back. Sunwealth uses net metering and low-income community shared solar (LICSS) agreements to extend the benefits of our solar projects to the broader community while continuing to deliver returns to investors and project partners.
Our project at Boston Properties CityPoint in Waltham, MA is a great example of community solar in action. Sunwealth partnered with Boston Properties to install a 614 kW solar system on the top floor of the commercial development’s parking garage. In addition to reducing the property’s carbon footprint and improving its bottom line, the project allows Boston Properties to share the economic benefits with its neighbors. Through a low-income community shared solar agreement, the system will provide $225,000 in lifetime savings to LMI offtakers — enough to provide 52 income-eligible households with meaningful savings on their electric bills. As Ben Myers, VP of Sustainability at Boston Properties, said, “The most impactful projects create additionality […] Adding community solar at CityPoint allowed us to harmonize the environmental and social elements of ESG.”
Solar energy for houses of worship
When prompted to think of what a church looks like, most people imagine sharply pointed spires, tall steeples, and intricate sculptures. If they think of sunlight at all, it’s the image of natural light cast through ornate stained-glass windows, not modern solar panels mounted on a rooftop. However, at the St. Mary & St. George Coptic Orthodox Church in Scituate, MA, the passerby can see both.
The congregation, led by Father Pishoy Mikhail, is the latest to benefit from Sunwealth’s initiative to bring solar energy access to houses of worship across New England. The 31-kW rooftop system, installed by Boston Solar, will reduce carbon emissions by 706 metric tons and deliver $40K in energy savings over the lifetime of the project. Houses of worship are increasingly looking to respond to climate change and do their part to mitigate its impact on Earth’s most vulnerable populations. Installing solar panels can serve as a visual testament to this commitment and can influence the entire community to consider their environmental footprint and evaluate how they can make an impact.
“A principle of our religion is to be a guardian of the earth and the environment. We have to take care of the planet and the people on it,” said Father Pishoy. “Exposing the solar panels to our congregation means that people will see them and understand the positive effect they are having on the church and on our community.”
A sense of pride in their community
Whether you’re spending a day or staying for the summer, it’s clear that Cape Cod is a community of neighbors who are proud of their home. Now, residents have one more reason to feel a sense of pride in their community: their local governments have come together to lead by example in the clean energy transition.
Sunwealth partnered with ACE Solar and Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative (CVEC) on solar installations on the rooftops of seven municipal buildings in Cape Cod & Martha’s Vineyard. The projects—including fire stations, a public library, a water treatment facility, and a community center—will generate combined lifetime savings of $1.9 million for Cape Cod communities.
“Our buildings are running 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Solar saves the town money and keeps the lights on,” said Philip Simonian, Fire Department Chief, Yarmouth.
But the projects mean more than just financial savings. The solar panels also help make Cape Cod more resilient, an important factor for coastal communities that are vulnerable to rising sea levels and stronger storms brought on by climate change.