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Black-Owned Energy Startup Raises $155M to Speed Up All-Electric Building Retrofits

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Originally published March 1, 2023

BlocPower CEO Donnel Baird wants to convert buildings in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods across the country from burning fossil fuels to using lower-carbon electricity for heating. He also wants to make that conversion process a money-saving and money-making enterprise for tenants, building owners and project financiers alike.

That’s a tough proposition today. But BlocPower’s software and services business model, backed by about $100 million in financing, has made it happen for more than 5,000 homes, apartments, houses of worship and commercial buildings across the country.’

On Wednesday, the New York City–based startup announced more than $150 million in new debt and equity financing to expand its electrification business. That’s enough money to serve between 1,000 and 5,000 buildings, or between 1,000 and 10,000 families, Baird said in a Wednesday interview.

BlocPower also expects this work will require the hiring and training of about 3,000 new employees, he said. Those workers will include formerly incarcerated people and residents of the lower-income neighborhoods the company serves, through its Civilian Climate Corps program in New York and planned expansions of this training program in other cities.

With the new funding, BlocPower has raised a total of just under $250 million. Baird, a child of immigrants from Guyana who had to heat their one-bedroom Brooklyn apartment with their gas stove during cold winter nights, said this scale of financing is more than he ever dreamed of when he first launched BlocPower in 2014.

But at the same time, ​“this is a drop in the bucket,” he said. ​“This is a $4 trillion problem.” That’s an estimate of how much it will cost to retrofit all 125 million buildings in America with electric heat pumps, new insulation and windows, solar panels on rooftops suited for them, and the other features of a carbon-free U.S. building stock.

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Faithfully Magazine is a fresh, bold and exciting news and culture publication that covers issues, conversations and events impacting Christian communities of color.


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