Photos by Spectrum Energy

A solar+storage system provides backup power for an affordable housing development for farmworkers.

Rancho Verde Apartments

Ventura, California

The Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, in partnership with Spectrum Energy Development and Green Dinosaur, has completed a solar+storage installation at an affordable housing development for farmworkers in Ventura, California. The multi-family rental development consists of a stand-alone Community Building as well as 11 residential buildings that provide a total of 24 one, two, three and four-bedroom apartments for farmworker households.  

The Community Building is now equipped with a solar+storage system to power a backup receptacle for charging basic necessities like small appliances, phones, and lighting in the event of an outage. In total, the development has 99kilowatts of rooftop solar spread across nine buildings. However, the 5-kilowatt/26 kilowatt-hour Eguana Technologies LG Chem lithium-ion battery system is only connected to the 10-kilowatt rooftop solar array located on the Community Building. The battery system is only charged by this onsite solar array. 

During regular grid operations, the battery operates in solar self-consumption mode – meaning, the solar+storage system supports 100 percent of the building’s electrical load (and therefore requires no electricity from the grid). When building load exceeds real-time solar production, the battery system discharges to meet remaining demand. When the solar system is producing more energy than is being used, the battery charges with the excess solar generation. Overall, the battery system delivers about 5 percent of the annual electricity consumption and lowers the facility’s electricity bills by reducing peak demand; however, the majority of savings are from solar generation. Solar PV is anticipated to offset utility costs by 80 percent annually. 

The project is LEED Platinum certified and utilized United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) farmworker housing financing, which requires that at least 5 percent of the property is capable of operating off-grid. The resulting solar+storage system allows for the Community Building to generate and consume energy entirely independent of the grid.  

The battery storage portion of the project benefited from the California Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) Equity Budget, offsetting battery storage costs by approximately 30 percent. Rancho Verde Apartments is one of the first battery storage projects to be completed under the SGIP Equity Budget, which is only available to projects in state-designated low-income and disadvantage communities. 

The solar+storage system was completed in January 2020 and took just over a year from initial development to installation. Barriers to development were primarily related to the paperwork requirements for permitting and interconnection with the utility, which resulted in major delays.  

Installation Details

Year Commissioned: 2020

Services Provided: Backup power

Supported Infrastructure: Community Building

Solar: 99 kW

Storage: 5 kW / 26 kWh

Project Partners: Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura, Green Dinosaur, Spectrum Energy Development Inc.

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