Renewable Power Perspectives Q&A with Robert “A.J.” Patton, CEO of 548 Capital, LLC.

I believe there is constantly a shock when individuals discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals simply cant think it. Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always important. We are also always ready to host individuals if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had gain access to.

Share with us a current success story.
We just recently joined Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to reveal that we will be constructing a $30 million, completely budget friendly and totally sustainable development, in collaboration with the City of Chicago. We are constructing 50 residential systems, a coffeehouse, a service center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
I believe there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people simply cant believe it.
The other thing that I believe is crucial is we have an economic effect that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. Were intending to cut utility costs for families in half. Thats a big deal, you understand. That amount of money impacts the budget of daily households
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and say that were constructing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I think the lesson is that union building is important.

Tell us about your company? (mission, partners, areas you run in, main consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all neighborhoods, all households, everyone needs to have access. Someone, some entity, has to act as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my mission is, and fortunately we are growing. We are currently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be announcing some new locations this fall

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Image courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is pleased to share the third installment in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and topics connected to speeding up an equitable and simply shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member companies are growing in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets specialist with more than a decade of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and real estate analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his know-how and track record of producing consistent returns with an individual enthusiasm for helping transform communities and their impact on the planet. In 2019, Patton was named a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his influence on Americas transition to a clean economy.
LEARNT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to begin your company?
I had 2 turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas expense, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we could not afford the gas expense. And so, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat turned off. For roughly a year in my teenagers, we had to boil water and carry it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were uniquely bumpy rides, and experiences like that simply stick to you. I dont care what occurs the rest of your career or what your quality of life is moving on; those moments are with you forever. As I talk about that with various groups around the country, it has ended up being clear that my experience is not an abnormality. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, and thats not a great thing
The second turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a company that was investing in a host of things around the world. People were being available in to request for an investment around eco-friendly energy, and I positioned a question to them: “What you are doing with these solar firms is incredible, and the expense of solar is coming down, but how does that aid daily individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their access? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt ask about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you know, low- and moderate-income families typically live in multi-family structures, and it is hard to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you have to call individual families and the cost of getting those people informed and after that subscribing to renewable energy is not a favorable business design.” So, I asked, “What if I owned the real estate development and the solar?” And they said, whoever does that is going to change the market forever. I stopped my task. I believe I kipped down my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I started my business. I named it 548 Capital because that is the system number in the public real estate where I matured. Whatever is I do is targeted to households in those situations and focused on enhancing their quality of life

What can companies like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is constantly valuable. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak directly with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is spectacular. If there are nationwide corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were currently dealing with a partnership with Lowes, which is contributing about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our tasks. Stabilizing exposure, standing beside us and stating “these neighborhoods deserve financial investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can potential partners do company with you?
We are likewise constantly willing to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that historically havent had gain access to. Im always tough top executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine value
How was your Accelerate subscription benefited you?
Its been fantastic just to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I found out a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and discovering about people with absolutely different viewpoints. I like the networking.
I think we are doing the best we can do in the COVID environment. Simply knowing that it exists, which ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big difference.