How Metro achieved a
$25 million solar power revenue stream
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metro) boosts sustainability and infrastructure
$25 million in lease revenue to Metro over 25 years
Solar panel carports/canopies at 4 Metro rail stations
Metro is creating one of the nation’s largest community solar power installations.
Washington Metro: Renewable energy from station parking lots to power local homes
Washington Metro is one of the largest rapid transit systems in the US, with 98 stations covering Washington DC as well as several jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia.
Alongside its own sustainability goals, Metro also supports those of the different jurisdictions in which it operates and, as a large landowner with over 1000 acres of property, Metro realized it had a unique opportunity to use these assets for solar panel installations. This was particularly important as there are not many places in this urban area to accommodate such large solar arrays - Metro is one of the few organizations with a real estate footprint big enough to make it happen.
“Any solar project would be challenging - to do that for the first time in a transit agency environment who has never done solar was a pretty tall order.”
How to turn this opportunity into the region’s largest aggregate solar project?
This is the largest ever aggregate solar project in the Washington DC area and is a complex undertaking. Photovoltaic solar panels are being installed over existing parking lots and garages at four stations - Anacostia, Naylor Road, Cheverly and Southern Avenue. As well as working with a relatively new technology and leveraging private investment, the locations mean navigating different local jurisdictions and utility providers. And because the solar panels are being installed over active parking lots and garages, construction and installation needs to be managed so that the project does not disrupt customers or services.
“We needed support through-out the whole experience - we would not have got there without the experience of high quality partners.”
JLL brought a team together from across their business with capital markets experience to find the right investment partner; project finance experts to understand available incentives for solar projects; and project management and sustainable infrastructure experts to manage the overall delivery.
Because of their experience of working with other clients on similar complex leasing structures, JLL could support Metro at every stage of the project, working closely with their different stakeholders as well as utility companies, developers and lenders to find the right solutions.
The result is 11 acres of solar panels, powering the equivalent of 1,100 homes, and delivering clean energy for at least the next 25 years. And alongside that main goal, the project delivers improvements to Metro’s own customer experience as commuters will enjoy shade and improved lighting at the stations as they walk to and from their vehicles.
Success that points to the opportunities ahead.
The solar project is a great example of Metro’s ability to leverage its assets to meet its sustainability goals, and its success has encouraged Metro to look at other opportunities. The next plan is to install EV charging infrastructure at its parking lots. As well as contributing to reducing Metro’s own carbon emissions, this will hopefully inspire other large landowners to use their underutilized assets too to generate clean energy.