New Fairgrounds Road Affordable Housing Will Be Solar Powered
Jason Graziadei •
Nantucket's newest affordable housing development will be solar powered.
The Wiggles Way housing complex - which will feature 22 affordable apartments across eight buildings off Fairgrounds Road - is getting an on-site solar power installation funded by ReMain Nantucket.
The apartments, already under construction next to the Faregrounds Restaurant, are being developed by the non-profit organization Housing Nantucket, which has set a goal to operate the new housing complex with net-zero energy usage. The solar panels will be installed atop a parking pergola (see illustration above) - the first of its kind on Nantucket - and the design has already been endorsed by the Historic District Commission.
The expectation is that the solar installation will produce 133 megawatt hours of electricity per year at the housing development, offsetting utilities for the residents to the tune of $30,000 per year. Housing Nantucket believes that could amount to $1.1 million in savings for tenants over 25 years (factoring in a 3 percent annual utility increase).
The project isn't Housing Nantucket's first foray into solar energy. The non-profit has already installed solar installations at six of its other properties thanks to grants from the Community Foundation for Nantucket.
"This project is an opportunity to demonstrate creative solutions that can make clean energy affordable and accessible," said Wendy Schmidt, founder of ReMain Nantucket. "ReMain Nantucket is pleased to help advance, in our corner of the world, the global, community-driven effort for a just transition to renewable energy."
The Wiggles Way affordable housing development began in 2021 when the family of Fred "Wiggles" Coffin - who passed away in 2004 - decided to sell its two-acre property at 31 Fairgrounds Road to Housing Nantucket for $3.6 million. The non-profit was able to complete the acquisition with taxpayer funds from the town's Affordable Housing Trust, which were approved by Town Meeting voters in 2019 as part of the so-called "Neighborhood First" program. The 22 apartments, including one-, two- and three-bedroom units, will be restricted to year-round residents earning between 50 percent and 150 percent of the area median income.
“Financial support from ReMain allows us to bring clean power to year-round working families,” said Anne Kuszpa, director of Housing Nantucket. “High utility costs consume a significant portion of the household budget for many islanders, and present a barrier to financial stability. By assisting with the large upfront expenses associated with the installation, ReMain Nantucket allows us to bring the benefits of renewable energy—lower and stabilized energy costs—directly to this underserved population.”
The hope, Kuszpa said, is to have the first units occupied by February 2023. The application process for the 11 apartments open to those making 80 percent of the area median income or below will open in November or December, and will be conducted as a lottery.
The 11 apartments available to "moderate income" individuals and families (those making between 80 percent and 150 percent of the area median income) will be dedicated to those already on Housing Nantucket's "ready to rent" list, which is the organization's rolling application database.