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

I believe there is always a shock when individuals discover who is behind our business. Even in our own neighborhoods, people just cant think it. Putting people in spaces together so everyone can share notes is always valuable. We are also always willing to host people if they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these communities. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in neighborhoods that historically havent had access.

Share with us a recent success story.
We just recently signed up with Mayor Lightfoot for an interview to announce that we will be developing a $30 million, totally inexpensive and completely sustainable development, in partnership with the City of Chicago. We are developing 50 domestic systems, a cafe, a business center, all on the South Side of Chicago, which will expand solar-powered usage in the city
What effect are you making?
When individuals discover who is behind our business, I believe there is constantly a shock. Even in our own communities, people just cant think it. To me, thats quite gratifying. People seeing whos behind 548 Capital matters.
The other thing that I think is crucial is we have an economic impact that resonates with individuals, and its a pretty powerful message. That amount of money impacts the budget of everyday households
What challenges do you deal with? Why?
When I go to banks and state that were developing sustainable housing in low- and moderate-income communities, they look at me like Ive spoken the wrong language. These neighborhoods are still being red-lined. I believe the lesson is that union structure is crucial.

By Constance ThompsonAugust 31, 2021
Picture courtesy of Pat Nabong/Sun-Times
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is delighted to share the 3rd installation in our “Accelerating Renewables” blog site series.
Each installment includes industry leaders and topics connected to speeding up a fair and just shift to a sustainable energy economy. In recognition of National Black Business Month, our August features highlight how three Black-owned Accelerate member business are thriving in the renewable resource sector.
Robert “A.J.” Patton is a finance, sales, and capital markets expert with more than a years of experience in investment banking, endowment management, and property analysis. In May 2016, A.J. established 548 Capital, LLC, to combine his proficiency and performance history of developing consistent returns with an individual passion for helping transform communities and their effect on the planet. In 2019, Patton was called a recipient of the Energy News 40 Under 40 award– highlighting his effect on Americas transition to a tidy 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 critical minutes that made me leap. In 1999, my mom received a $400 gas bill, and she was only making ten bucks an hour, so we couldnt afford the gas costs. Therefore, sadly, we had our gas and heat turned off. For approximately a year in my teens, we had 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 do not care what happens the rest of your profession or what your lifestyle is moving forward; those minutes are with you permanently. As I discuss that with various groups around the country, it has become clear that my experience is not an anomaly. A lot of individuals have similar anecdotes, whichs not a good idea
The 2nd turning point was probably 15 years ago, as I was working for a company that was buying a host of things around the globe. People were coming in to request for an investment around renewable resource, and I presented a question to them: “What you are finishing with these solar companies is incredible, and the expense of solar is boiling down, however how does that assistance everyday individuals?” I asked, “Where are they in your equation? Where is their gain access to? They are paying an out of proportion quantity of their income on energy.” They looked confused that I would even attempt inquire about the everyday people. They stated, “Well, you understand, low- and moderate-income households 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 structure owners, you need to get in touch with individual families and the expense of getting those individuals educated and then registering for renewable resource is not a favorable business design.” 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 permanently. So I stopped my job. I think I turned in my resignation within six months of that conversation, and I began my business. Since that is the unit number in the public housing where I grew up, I named it 548 Capital. Whatever is I do is targeted to families in those scenarios and focused on enhancing their quality of life

So 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 magnificent. Then, if there are national corporations that can support our work that can also be a huge deal. Were presently dealing with a collaboration with Lowes, which is donating about $1,000,000 worth of materials to support our projects. Normalizing exposure, standing next to us and saying “these communities deserve investment”– you cant put a worth on that
How can potential partners work with you?
Now, we are Chicago-focused. We are always looking for partners to invest, provide debt or purchase some tax credits, thats the first ask. If they desire to see some of the sustainable technology we are putting in these neighborhoods, we are likewise constantly ready to host people. This is not proprietary; its an open book. We host individuals as soon as a week at our structure so they can see the technology that were applying in communities that traditionally have not had gain access to. We are likewise going to be broadening our board. Im always difficult leading executives to put their name and face on these efforts due to the fact that I think that has genuine worth
How was your Accelerate membership benefited you?
Its been great just to fulfill the other Accelerate member business. I found out a lot from having conversations with them in real-time, and learning about people with absolutely different point of views. I like the networking.
I think we are doing the very best we can do in the COVID environment. Feeling in ones bones that it exists, which ACORE is so deliberate about the program, makes a huge distinction.

Inform us about your company? (objective, partners, regions you run in, primary consumers, and so on).
The vision of 548 Capital is to make sustainable innovations accessible for all: all communities, all households, everybody must have access. Somebody, some entity, has to function as the bridge so that those technologies reach everyone. Thats what my objective is, and luckily we are growing. We are presently headquartered in Chicago, however we will be revealing some brand-new places this fall