3/21/2016

Rooftop Solar Seed Fund For Non-Profits Takes Off In US


More than 1.5 million non-profit organizations and 30,000 co-ops in the US could be saving big bucks with rooftop solar, but they don’t have access to the kinds of financing and tax benefits enjoyed by residential and commercial properties. To help change that, a non-profit called RE-volv has developed a unique financing approach, and last week it launched a new crowdfunding platform that will bring rooftop solar to the first three of what is anticipated to be an avalanche of solar installations.

The RE-volv Rooftop Solar Funding Concept

CleanTechnica has been following RE-volv’s creative approach to rooftop solar financingsince 2013, and so has the US Energy Department. Last year, the organization won a Business Innovation award from the agency’s SunShot Catalyst incubator, which provided it with $25,000 in funding, along with technical support to develop a first-of-its kind crowdfunding and revolving loan platform to help community organizations get clean power.

The platform is now ready to go with rooftop solar funding campaigns for the Riverwest Co-op & Grocery in Milwaukee, Isla Vista Food Cooperative in Santa Barbara, and the community center Serenity House in Philadelphia.

The idea behind the platform is so simple it hurts. The three new RE-volv rooftop solar projects will recruit nearby college students to raise money for the new Solar Seed Fund, which carries the up-front cost of the installations. Through that mechanism, the installation gets a tax break — but it goes to the donors instead of to the solar recipients.

What the solar recipients do get is a 20-year lease agreement that provides them with a break on their electricity bills, as is typical of any power purchase agreement. RE-volv estimates that the savings can top 15 percent or more.

All together, the three new Solar Seed Fund clients are expected to save about $217,000 over the lease period.

With the money saved on electricity bills, each new solar owner can then help pay into the Solar Seed Fund, and RE-volv chips in most of the lease payments as well....more