DSD completes 1.85 MW solar project for retirement home, first in Virginia


DSD Renewables, the New York-based commercial and industrial solar developer, has completed installation of a 1.85 MW ground-mounted solar project at the Village at Orchard Ridge, a National Lutheran Community & Services (NLCS) retirement home in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia.

Located along the Blue Ridge Mountains, the scenic project marks the developer’s first project developed in Virginia, expanding DSD’s footprint into 23 states.

The Shenandoah Valley project is located adjacent to the NLCS’ retirement facility complex and is a part of the organization’s commitment of achieving 100% clean energy usage across its facilities. The project will meet 85% of the community’s energy needs and produce 2,396 MWh of clean energy each year, the equivalent of 330 homes.

NLCS is a faith-based, not-for-profit group of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that operates retirement homes and nursing care facilities in Maryland and Virginia.

Construction of the project lasted for about nine months and was also the first solar project for a local Virginia utility company, the developer said, overcoming interconnection limitations and designing a project site that complimented the aesthetics of the retirement community.

The Shenandoah Valley project uses SMA Solar inverters and Shoals Technologies’ BLA Disconnect 1500V load balancing systems.

“We believe that ‘Leadership by Doing’ is the best way to make a meaningful impact on our community,” said Richard Mazza, chief financial officer and executive vice president of business development at NLCS. “This project is a testament to that mindset. Not only does it reduce greenhouse gas emissions and lower energy costs, but it also gives our residents an opportunity to be proactive in environmental initiatives. We’re happy to serve as a model to other Life Plan Communities of what’s possible when it comes to what many non-profits may consider beyond their reach or expertise.”

Over the last three years, Virginia pivoted its energy policy, centering squarely on solar and wind energy buildout. The Department of Environmental Quality set a target of 5.5 GW of renewable energy, at least 3 GW of which should be under development by 2022. In the last two years, the state has deployed gigawatt-scale capacity in solar, dwarfing years past.

Virginia targets 30% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% by 2050. While much of the buildout thus far has been at the utility-scale, the state also has significant incentives for solar and energy storage at the residential and commercial levels. 

Based in Schenectady, N.Y., DSD’s origins date back to 2012 as the former GE Solar business, which rebranded as Distributed Solar Development LLC in 2019.  In mid-2020, DSD was acquired by BlackRock Real Assets with a $250 million equity raise.  Now in 23 states, the company has developed C&I projects for Home Depot in eight states, as well as IKEA, Partners Healthcare, MGM and T-Mobile, among others.

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