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

What can organizations like ACORE do to move that needle for you, to break down that barrier?
Putting people in rooms together so everyone can share notes is always important. Through the Accelerate program, weve had a possibility to speak straight with lenders and tax credit syndicators which is magnificent. If there are national corporations that can support our work that can likewise be a huge offer. Were currently dealing with a partnership with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our tasks. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these neighborhoods deserve investment”– you cant put a value on that
How can possible partners work with you?
We are likewise constantly ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods. We host people when a week at our building so they can see the innovation that were applying in communities that traditionally havent had access. Im constantly challenging leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts because I believe that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been terrific simply to satisfy the other Accelerate member companies. I learned a lot from having discussions with them in real-time, and learning more about individuals with absolutely different point of views. I enjoy the networking.
I believe we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Just understanding that it exists, and that ACORE is so intentional about the program, makes a big difference.

I think there is constantly a shock when people discover who is behind our company. Even in our own communities, individuals just cant think it. Putting individuals in spaces together so everybody can share notes is always valuable. We are also always ready to host people if they want to see some of the sustainable innovation we are putting in these communities. We host people as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were using in communities that traditionally havent had gain access to.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture thanks to Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is happy to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog series.
Each installment features industry leaders and subjects connected to speeding up an equitable and just shift to a renewable resource economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are flourishing in the sustainable energy sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a financing, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in financial investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. founded 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his expertise and track record of producing constant returns with a personal passion for helping transform communities and their effect 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.
CHECKED OUT MORE: Up-and-Comer Developer Makes Headway without the Banks ( Chicago Sun-Times, August 27, 2021).
What inspired you to start your business?
I had 2 turning points that made me leap. In 1999, my mother received a $400 gas bill, and she was just making ten dollars an hour, so we couldnt manage the gas bill. Therefore, unfortunately, we had our gas and heat turned off. For approximately a year in my teenagers, we needed to boil water and carry it up to a porcelain tub to take a bath. Those were distinctively difficult times, and experiences like that simply stick with you. I dont care what occurs the rest of your career or what your lifestyle is moving on; those minutes are with you permanently. As I discuss that with various groups around the nation, it has actually ended up being clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A great deal of individuals have comparable anecdotes, and thats not a good idea
The 2nd turning point was probably 15 years back, as I was working for a firm that was purchasing a host of things around the globe. People were coming in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I presented a concern to them: “What you are doing with these solar firms is incredible, and the expense of solar is coming down, but how does that assistance everyday people?” I asked, “Where are they in your formula? Where is their access? They are paying a disproportionate amount of their earnings on energy.” They looked puzzled that I would even dare ask about the everyday individuals. They said, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income families typically live in multi-family buildings, and it is difficult to get in contact with those constructing owners. If you can not get in contact with the building owners, you need to contact specific households and the cost of getting those people educated and after that subscribing to renewable energy is not a favorable company design.” I asked, “What if I owned the housing advancement and the solar?” And they stated, whoever does that is going to alter the market permanently. I quit my task. I think I kipped down my resignation within 6 months of that discussion, and I began my business. I called it 548 Capital because that is the unit number in the general public housing where I matured. Whatever is I do is targeted to households in those situations and focused on enhancing their quality of life

Show us a current success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for a press conference to reveal that we will be developing a $30 million, entirely sustainable and completely inexpensive advancement, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are building 50 property systems, a coffee store, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What impact are you making?
I think there is always a shock when people discover who is behind our business. Even in our own communities, people just cant believe it.
The other thing that I think is crucial is we have a financial impact that resonates with people, and its a quite powerful message. Were aiming to cut energy expenses for households in half. Thats a huge offer, you know. That amount of money impacts the budget of everyday households
What obstacles do you deal with? Why?
You cant skip the grind. Let me acknowledge that beginning a service, any organization, was going to be hard. With that stated, access to capital is ungodly challenging. When I go to banks and state that were constructing sustainable real estate in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, they take a look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. Some banks dont desire to invest; they do not want to partner; they do not desire to do their share. It is a fight of generational size that Im trying to combat here, and weve made very small, incremental progress. I think the lesson is that union building is very important. My voice only suggests so much, but the more I can bring buddies to the table and enhance that voice, the more we can raise attention to the requirement

Inform us about your company? (mission, partners, regions you operate in, primary consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable technologies accessible for all: all communities, all households, everybody should have gain access to. Someone, some entity, has to serve as the bridge so that those innovations reach everybody.