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Delmar DivINe partners with Ameren to bring solar panels to the West End neighborhood

Construction workers install a set of solar panels at a Habitat for Humanity location in May 2021 as part of Ameren Missouri's Neighborhood Solar Program. Later this year, the company will put in a similar set up at the Delmar DivINE nonprofit center on Delmar Boulevard.
Ameren Missouri
Construction workers install a set of solar panels at a Habitat for Humanity location in St. Louis in May 2021 as part of Ameren Missouri's Neighborhood Solar Program. Now, the company is developing a similar setup at the Delmar DivINe nonprofit center on Delmar Boulevard.

A new nonprofit center on Delmar Boulevard will soon help generate more solar energy for the region, while bringing jobs and educational opportunities to St. Louis’ West End neighborhood.

The Delmar DivINe is collaborating with Ameren Missouri as part of the Neighborhood Solar Program, which adapts underutilized land for solar generation at no cost to nonprofits, small businesses and schools. This will be the fourth site in the program since it launched in late 2019.

Annemarie Nauert, renewables program supervisor at Ameren Missouri, said the solar panels will be installed later this year over Delmar DivINe’s parking lot, creating a canopy.

“It provides shaded parking in the summer. It provides LED lighting, which helps with security of that area at night, and of course it’s adding clean energy locally to the grid there for the benefit of all of Ameren Missouri's customers,” she said.

Nauert said the project will create 20 local construction jobs and training opportunities for installation and ongoing maintenance.

“This investment is a vehicle for workforce development, including clients of nonprofits or students involved with the site as part of the project team where there is interest,” she said.

Ameren Missouri donated $300,000 to support Delmar DivINe’s overall mission.

The nonprofit center opened its doors late last year with the goal to help transform communities north of Delmar, and Executive Director Jorge Riopedre is excited that part of that effort will include generating clean energy.

“Communities of color are often located near pollutants, dirty energy — environments that are not healthy,” he said. “So the idea that we would have a solar generation array at Delmar DivINe that both created clean energy that we all need and that now we’re situating clean power near a community of color — both of those aspects resonated with me.”

West End resident Keaira Anderson grew up a block behind where the solar panels are going in, and she said her family members are excited about the job and educational opportunities.

“That's the piece that's really impactful, because the more residents that we can get educated about solar panels, we know it's a win-win situation for our environment, and for those electricity bills,” she said.

Anderson, who works in real estate and is also a Delmar DivINe board member, said this project could have a positive domino effect in the neighborhood.

“I see it spilling over into the community because tons of people are gonna want to know, ‘What are solar panels and how do they help?’” she said. “One thing I can say is that if more residents in the West End also decide to install solar panels, property values are going to continue to increase, which is fantastic in our neighborhood.”

The solar panels are expected to be up and running next year. Ameren anticipates they’ll produce about the same amount of energy as it takes to power 30 houses in a year.

Follow Corinne on Twitter: @corinnesusan

Corinne is the economic development reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.